The city of McKinney will conduct an emissions study for a potential commercial kitchen, or ghost kitchen, that sought permission to rezone land at Craig Ranch.

The study was approved June 22 at a specially called McKinney City Council meeting. Council authorized staff to research emission regulations for commercial kitchens.

The ghost kitchen rezoning was previously on the March 23 and April 13 McKinney Planning & Zoning Commission agendas, but the request was tabled by the commission in the first meeting and withdrawn by the applicant before the second. The rezoning was requested to change the required height from a minimum of two stories to a one-story building. Despite having a positive recommendation from staff, both times the commission received numerous letters of opposition against the project.

Even David Craig, the CEO of Craig International and the master planner of Craig Ranch, said the project was not a good fit for the proposed location.

“The use and the traffic it will generate is an inappropriate use and the location at the entrance of a gated community like the Estates at Craig Ranch,” Craig said during the April 13 meeting. “This concept of ghost kitchens should not be in residential neighborhoods or at their entrances.”

The ghost kitchen would be located at the northeast corner of Collin McKinney Parkway and Piper Glen Road and would be operated by Crave Delivery based out of Idaho.

Ghost kitchens are so named because they operate with several kitchens, but only for to-go or delivery orders. Resident concerns during the public comment sessions cited that the ghost kitchen was an inappropriate use for that area, the noise and pollution generated would pose a health and safety risk, and the traffic would be too much for that area.

Both P&Z commissioners and Mayor George Fuller pointed out that under the current zoning, Crave is able to build a ghost kitchen in that area without the rezoning request being approved, as it meets the definition of a restaurant or cafeteria area under the city’s current zoning, which defines it as “an establishment where food is prepared for the general public, but where there are no designated areas for dining on the premises, indoor or outdoor.”

“There's no one here that can say that they don't meet that definition,” Fuller said June 22. “They might say that they have things in addition that are offensive to the people in this room; I get that.”

In June, after withdrawing its rezoning request, Crave submitted a site plan to build the ghost kitchen at the site, but with two stories. This does not require council approval.

City staff said Crave is in the site plan process with city staff, which is the first step in the overall development process. Next will be civil engineering plans that will address things, such as water lines and wastewater lines. Following that, Crave will submit their civil plans and can then move to vertical construction, staff said.

By law the city of McKinney cannot deny a project if the zoning is already allowed there, even if there are traffic concerns, staff said.

After about an hour of discussion, Fuller said the only “arguably prudent” option for the city would be to study the issues that were brought up regarding emissions, and who would be impacted within the city if it took action based on the possible emissions from the ghost kitchen.

Council unanimously agreed with this decision.

Staff will present the findings of the study to the City Council at the July 20 meeting, along with any recommendations that may be warranted. Council could then take action after the information is presented July 20.