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Fla. town moves to ban chains

PALM BEACH Fla. The Palm Beach Town Council on Monday voted unanimously to block "formula restaurants" from opening in the island town.

The ban, which was first proposed in 2006, applies to restaurants with three or more units and similar trade names, standardized and limited menus, uniforms, architecture, and decor. The measure will go before voters this spring.

Town officials could not be reached for comment by the time of this posting. However, according to official documents, the move was made in order to preserve local restaurants and to maintain the town's character.

Town Council members have said in recent months that the objection was “to make sure the town does not find itself inundated in fast-food drive-in facilities that are not going to necessarily directly cater to the ambience or the quality of life.”

“I don’t think that Ruth’s Chris Steak House or P.F. Chang’s is an issue,” said council member Leslie Shaw in hearing documents. “The general public controls what succeeds and what doesn’t succeed and the reason we were adamant about not seeing a McDonald’s, a Starbucks or a Subway and some of these others come in is we were concerned who they were going to cater to and how it was going to impact the residents as a whole.”

Other municipalities across the country have similar limits on chain restaurants. For example, voters in Ogunquit, Maine, in 2005 approved a "Keep the Character" ballot initiative that banned fast-food and other "formula" restaurants from opening there.

Other communities that have in the past limited openings of chain restaurants include the California towns of Arcata, Calistoga, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Coronado, Pacific Grove, San Juan Bautista, Sausalito and Solvang; Bainbridge Island and Port Townsend, Wash.; Bristol, R.I.; Nantucket, Mass.; Port Jefferson, N.Y.; Sanibel, Fla.; and York, Maine.

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