The Strange Saga of the Not-So-Golden Arches

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By Tom Donaldson

Atlantic News, September 23, 1999

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News ]

McDonald's foundation
Where's the Beef? -- A solid foundation for Hampton's new McDonald's sits
completed, but the rest of the building is still missing. [Tom Donaldson photo]

HAMPTON – As far as the question of  “What is delaying construction at the McDonald’s, Anns Lane and Lafayette Road site?” is concerned, there seems to be no answers.

After the adjournment of a planning board meeting several weeks ago, one of the members casually asked attorney Peter Saari as he walked out, “What is going on with McDonald’s? Saari replied, “The plans are lost.” End of conversation.

Later on Saari said that he had talked to Hampton Building Inspector Dan Vincent, who repeatedly told him that everything was in order and not to be concerned, although he suggested a call to David Pagel, construction manager for McDonald’s.

Pagel said he knew of no problems but would check and call back. In the meantime Vincent went on vacation, and the assistant building inspector who when asked if McDonald’s construction plans were in the office, he said “No, there are several ‘glitches’ and you will have to talk to Dan [Vincent] about that.”

Following another call to Construction Manager Pagel, Diane Wiffin, public affairs manager for McDonald’s, returned the call for Pagel and said that early in July completed and corrected plans for the construction were given to the building inspector and “there are no changes from our application in July and we are still waiting for our permit,” When asked if McDonald’s Corporation was not anxious to get going on the project, she would not answer “yes” or “no,” only that they await permits.

Back in the early spring of 1997, McDonald’s representatives with their attorney Peter Saari went to the planning board and presented plans for a new restaurant. After a hard fight with abutters at two public hearings, the board accepted the plans.

In July of 1998, everything was approved and the builder applied for building permits.  Some soil tests found minor oil contamination and that may have delayed the start of construction but the problem was quickly rectified. In July of 1999, just before the permits expired, heavy equipment was delivered to the site and a foundation was poured, a fence was built and some sewer pipes laid. As of this date, heavy equipment and a construction trailer is on the site; however, not one bit of work has been done since July.

No one seems to know the answer to why construction has not started – Town Manager James Barrington has heard of no problems; Jim Workman, planning hoard chairman, Brian Warburton, the selectmen’s representative to the planning board, and Selectman Chairman Fred Rice haven’t heard a thing.

Sylvia Reif, owner of both the North Hampton and Seabrook McDonald’s franchises, says that she has no idea why the construction hasn’t started. When asked if she wasn’t anxious to get into the new location, she said,” yes, but it is something that is not under my control. You will have to ask McDonald’s about that.”

Reif said that business had been good during the past summer but that presently much of the help has gone back to school and that “things have returned to normal.” She added that the reason for the move down the road about a mile was because McDonald’s corporation had found the demographics better at the Hampton location.

So, in the meantime, there still does not appear to be an answer to the question of the not-so-golden arches.

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