Restaurant proposal could have Olney residents eating more chicken -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected on Aug. 4, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

Chick-fil-A representatives last week unveiled their proposal to build a new restaurant in Olney.

A 4,780-square-foot restaurant is proposed for 18115 Georgia Ave., just north of the intersection of Md. 108.

The restaurant will have about 120 seats, a children’s play area, and a drive-through window, according to company plans

Representatives of the Atlanta restaurant chain spoke about the plans at the July 29 meeting of the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee

The existing building currently houses businesses including Designs by Nicole, S Cleaners and Master Method Karate. The building is to be razed, as will an unoccupied house on the east end of the property that fronts Hillcrest Avenue.

The property’s current owner will retain ownership and Chick-fil-A will have a long-term lease agreement.

Based on informal comments from community representatives and county planning staff, Chick-fil-A modified its plans to ensure that the restaurant fits the overall area.

“We learned that our prototypical design was not appropriate for Olney,” said attorney Stacy P. Silber of Lerch, Early & Brewer, representing Chick-fil-A.

This resulted in a building designed to respect and complement other development in the area, as well as an enhanced street presence, outdoor seating and a pedestrian connection and entrance from Georgia Avenue.

The current entrance to the property from Georgia Avenue will be eliminated. Traffic will enter and exit on a long driveway at the north end of the property, designed to prevent traffic from stacking.

Chick-fil-A representatives said they are working with the owner of the adjacent building that houses Five Guys, Chipotle, and Gorman’s Garments and Gear. The parking lots will be combined and improved, to include more than 170 spaces.

There has been chatter on the Olney-Brookeville Exchange Yahoo group in recent weeks regarding whether Olney needs another fast food restaurant, as well as comments on religious, moral and political beliefs associated with the company.

Only one person spoke in opposition to the plan at the meeting, saying she didn’t believe that Chick-fil-A’s values were in line with those of the community.

Others welcomed the idea of an Olney location and spoke of driving to Chick-fil-A restaurants in Kentlands, Columbia and Frederick. The restaurant’s community involvement and family events, such as story time and Daddy-Daughter nights, were praised.

Some of the concerns that were raised include connections with adjacent property, additional traffic, the drive-through land configuration and pedestrian safety.

Jim Smith, chairman of the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee, said all comments concerns would be documented and officials would keep working with the developer and planning staff to resolve them.

“The developer did a thorough job of looking at our design guidelines and illustrative concept and did a good job of accommodating them,” he said.

John Webster, president of the Greater Olney Civic Association, said he thought the plan was good. He said Chick-fil-A would offer a similar presentation at his organization’s meeting Tuesday.

“I suspect that [association] delegates will support it, although there will be some tweaks to the plan,” he said.

Silber said the process is still in the early stages.

The next step is to file the plan with the county planning agency over the next couple of months. A formal community meeting is expected in September.

After the site plan and preliminary plan are submitted, there will be a public hearing, likely in late 2014 or early 2015.

If all goes as planned, the restaurant could open in 2016.

Explanation: The original version misspelled Chick-fil-A in several references.

thogan@gazette.net