The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on March 14 approved a preliminary plat and lot split for McDonald's, the first step required for its relocation from the corner of Cemetery Road and Lyman Drive to the northeast corner of Cemetery Road and Britton Parkway.
The new site is about 570 feet west of the current location and, along with a proposed Giant Eagle and other retail stores, offices and residences at the northwest corner of Cemetery Road and Britton Parkway, will anchor the entrance to the Britton Parkway corridor.
If it did not relocate, McDonald's planned to raze and rebuild the restaurant at 3900 Lyman Drive.
But after one company acquired all three vacant lots between Britton Parkway and Lyman Drive, it became feasible to develop and market the parcels.
"This site has some unique challenges because of its location and size ... but having one owner will help resolve these challenges," said attorney Catherine Cunningham, representing landowner Swordfish City of Granville.
The new McDonald's will be on the former site of the Evergreen Restaurant and to the immediate west of a former BP gas station. The third parcel to the north has never been developed.
A new east-west road will be built immediately to the north of and parallel to Cemetery Road, connecting Britton Parkway to Lyman Drive and providing access via rear lots to McDonald's, the former BP lot and the Speedway at Cemetery Road and Lyman Drive.
The new road behind the lots would improve access to those parcels for motorists eastbound on Cemetery Road who are precluded from turning because of a median.
Approval of the preliminary plan and lot split accelerates the process of putting a final development plan before the planning and zoning commission, City Planner John Talentino said.
Talentino said the development would be appropriate for the area and recommended approval to the commission.
He mentioned a hotel among the possibilities to occupy the site McDonald's would vacate.
Joe Smiley, president of Land Strategies, said the $2.7 million McDonald's relocation project will result in a restaurant similar to those at Main Street in Hilliard and at Fishinger Boulevard and Riverside Drive.
The new restaurant also likely will be permitted an electronic LED sign below its monument sign.
The sign could not blink, flash or scroll, however, and would require a variance as city code prohibits internally lit signs.
Commission member Thomas Lyden, noting the electronic board in the architectural renderings, asked for it to be removed, but Smiley said he wanted the commission to consider it.
Smiley said the company uses such LED displays not only for advertising menu items, but also for community events.
Mayor Don Schonhardt, who also sits on the commission, said the city typically would not approve such a sign but solicited a commitment from McDonald's not to place advertising in the windows of the store.
City officials and McDonald's representatives appeared open to the idea.
Signs at the McDonald's will be addressed when the final development plan is submitted for approval.