The Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission has denied a request for a conditional use that would have allowed a Panera Bread restaurant with a drive-through to be built at the Waterloo Crossing retail center.
"The application for a conditional use to allow a drive-through was denied, and so the application for another necessary variance and the site development plan were tabled," Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said.
The company now must prepare a revised site development plan. Officials hope to break ground on the new 3,883-square-foot building yet this year, but planning and zoning commission members were not convinced that a drive-through would fit in with the city's desire to make commercial developments in Canal Winchester more pedestrian-friendly.
If Panera Bread manages to revise its plan to the satisfaction of the planning and zoning commission, the new restaurant would be located at 685 W. Waterloo St., just southeast of the Chipotle restaurant.
A drive-through window is a design feature that's available at only a few of the nearly 20 Panera Bread locations in central Ohio.
"The planning and zoning commission thought that the drive-through design conflicted with the commercial development standards that were adopted to make development more pedestrian-friendly," Haire said. "Their concern was with conflicts of pedestrian traffic and drive-through traffic due to the layout of the drive-through, with potential 'stacking' of cars which would block access and traffic flow within the site."
Haire mentioned the potential project at the March 3 Canal Winchester City Council meeting. Since then, he said, he's heard from residents who are excited about the new dining option, but until a new plan is approved, the project cannot move ahead.
According to Haire, the proposed site has all necessary infrastructure in place so there are no city expenses related to construction and no incentives were necessary to attract the restaurant to Canal Winchester.
At this time, Haire said he is uncertain as to how many new jobs would be added by the restaurant.
Panera Bread restaurants specialize in baked goods, soups, salads and sandwiches, providing guests with free Wi-Fi and meeting space, and offering catering services.
The next scheduled planning and zoning commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, April 14, at Town Hall, 10 N. High St.