Union Township could soon be getting two new food businesses along West State Street.
Plans for a Popeyes passed the township supervisors’ approval Thursday for construction on the north side of Route 224.
Supervisor chairman Pat Angiolelli said plans also are gearing up for construction of a Dairy Queen on the south side of the highway, next to Los Amigos.
The supervisors, in a 2-0 vote, approved the land development plan for Popeyes, even though they had received an unfavorable review of the plan from the Lawrence County Planning Commission. The biggest issue, according to the commission, was inadequate parking.
“It went before the zoning hearing board, and they didn’t see a problem with it,” Angiolelli said. “Actually, it appears that for the size of the property, it’s perfectly matched for it.”
The property, located between Sheetz and the Hampton Inn, is owned by McClure Realty and is being developed by New Castle Chicken LLC, a division of PN Restaurants Inc. of Edison, New Jersey.
The plans call for construction of a 2,276-square-foot fast food restaurant on less than one acre of ground in a CC Central Commercial District.
The county planning commission, in reviewing the plans, noted that the number of vehicles for stacking at the drive-through, according to the township zoning ordinance, should be 10, but the plans only allow for a seven-car minimum.
The township zoning hearing board had granted variances on March 15, requiring 57 parking spaces, including 10 for employees on the largest shift, but the plan only allows for 14 parking slots.
The review also counters that similar uses in the township have an average of one parking space per 77 square feet of gross floor area. The township should amend its ordinance to require less parking if the supervisors feel that the parking requirements in the zoning ordinance are too onerous on developers.
The review also notes that the granting of variances for the parking requirements are in violation of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and the township zoning ordinance, and that they give unfair disadvantage to other businesses that were required to meet the ordinance requirements.
“There’s enough parking at Sheetz and at the motel,” Angiolelli said, adding that Popeyes business is mostly take-out. Hotel guests will be able to walk to the business, he added.
“It’s an odd-sized property,” he said.
He said of the county planning commission’s review, “I respect their recommendations, but in this situation, I think it will work out fine.”
Angiolelli noted that the developers want to start construction of the business as soon as possible.
Popeyes is an American chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants. The company was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and has its headquarters in Miami.
The supervisors concluded that the building is specifically designed to be drive-through business.
“Fast food is changing and we need to make room for this type of situation,” Angiolelli said. He said they agreed that the ordinance requires too much parking and they plan to revisit that.
Angiolellie said that the owners of the prospective Dairy Queen, Carla and Jim Shaffer of Shenango Township, recently closed on the property purchase and that currently there are no zoning issues.
Attempts to reach the Shaffers were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon. They also are owners of the Dairy Queen in Shenango Township.