ENCINO : Council OKs Burger King Drive-Through

Despite protests by homeowner groups and businesses, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a Burger King drive-through restaurant proposed for Gloria Avenue and Ventura Boulevard in Encino.

The council voted 11 to 1 to make an exception to local zoning ordinances, allowing the restaurant to operate a drive-through window in one of five areas designated for pedestrian activity under the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan.

The action caps months of debate over the project, which developers say will mean a $2-million investment in the community that will create about 60 jobs, but homeowners and some neighboring businesses charge that it will add to traffic congestion and noise problems in the area.

"They approved it--lock, stock and barrel," said Homeowners of Encino President Gerald A. Silver, who has led opposition to the restaurant. "But it's not over till these guys are frying hamburgers, and that's going to be a long time."

Restaurant developers Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti greeted the news with mixed emotions.

"It was a bittersweet victory," said Ralph Cimmarusti, adding that both brothers are concerned about continuing opposition to the project and that they will strive to be good neighbors and win the support of the community.

But while the Cimmarustis plan to break ground within a month, Silver said the board of directors of his group, as well as individuals in the community, are considering filing lawsuits to block the project.

Ralph Cimmarusti said not only would such a move be futile, it would be ridiculous.

"Enough is enough, for Christ's sake! It's a Burger King, not a nuclear waste dump!"

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