Sonora KFC seeks approval to build on old Denny's site – Union Democrat

Fast food giant KFC is looking to open in a location that once housed a Denny’s restaurant at 1001 Mono Way in Sonora, but city officials say the company would first have to make some drastic changes to its original proposal.

The Sonora Planning Commission will consider approving a design-review permit for the project at a public meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

To accommodate a drive-thru lane, the fried chicken purveyor must remove and replace the former Denny’s building that was also briefly home to the Bay Area-based Original Buffalo Wings from 2013 to 2015.

Proposed designs for the new KFC that were originally submitted to the city look vastly different than the rest of the structures in the Timberhill Shopping Center, which includes Save Mart, Ross and Carl’s Jr.

Paula Daneluk, the city’s planning consultant, said the original designs for roof, building material and signage are not approved.

The proposed designs depict a rectangular building with a flat roof that would be painted in white, red, and gray stripes with a large image of KFC mascot Colonel Sanders on the side directly facing Mono Way.

“World’s Famous Chicken” and “Made the Hard Way, Made by Hand” would be emblazoned in large letters on the side visible to eastbound traffic on Mono Way approaching from the west.

In comments submitted to the city, the Tuolumne Heritage Committee referred to the proposed building as the “formula cookie-cutter design” for KFC restaurants and asked the city to require a complete redesign that’s more similar to other buildings in the shopping center.

The committee stated the design of the former Denny’s building “would be a good model.”

One of the conditions the city has required for approval of the project is to revise the design to incorporate “pitched roofs and Spanish tile roofing materials similar to the other buildings in the shopping center.”

The brick along the bottom border of the proposed KFC would also have to be replaced with stacked rocked similar to the columns on other buildings in the center.

Another requirement is to include additional open and green space in the parking lot to include native trees that would provide shade.

Daneluk said the city would allow the project to move forward under the required conditions in an effort to expedite the process, as opposed to requiring the fast food chain to re-submit new designs to the commission for approval at a later date.

Rachelle Kellogg, the city’s community development director, said the commission has the authority to issue the permit unless someone files an appeal to the Sonora City Council within 10 days of the decision.

“After that, it’s just issuing their building permits and complying with project conditions,” Kellogg said. “They have to get all of their permits and comply with all of the conditions set by the planning commission.”

Clifton Sorrell, of VMI Architecture based in San Rafael, is listed as the applicant for the project.

When reached Thursday by telephone, Sorrell referred all questions to a number for Harman-Management Corporation in Los Altos and declined to comment on his involvement with the project.

A message left for the real estate division of Harman Management Corporation was not returned by Thursday afternoon.

A company overview on Bloomberg.com stated that Harman Management Corporation, based in Los Altos, is a franchisee of KFC restaurants in California, Colorado, Utah and Washington. Buzzfile.com, which bills itself as a company information database, stated that the company is estimated to generate $221.9 million in annual revenues.

City Hall, where Monday’s meeting will be held, is at 94 N. Washington St.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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