A pair of developers appear to be pushing forward with plans to open a Swensons Drive-In on Cemetery Road, immediately west of the entrance to J.W. Reason Elementary School, 4790 Cemetery Road.
City officials, however, have said the location would present several hurdles.
The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, Aug. 9, is expected to consider an application to rezone 1.8 acres to allow for the construction of a 1,711-square foot drive-in restaurant. The commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.
The applicant is 4810-4832 Cemetery Center LLC, and the developers are Timothy Reardon and Jamie Moore. The partners formed the limited-liability company for the project.
The sock-hop-style drive-in restaurant would be built at 4810 Cemetery Road, according to the application.
The restaurant would have no indoor or outdoor seating and would not have a drive-thru, Reardon said. Orders would be delivered to vehicles to be consumed there or taken to go.
A few months ago, Moore, who works at Dublin-based Crawford Hoying, and Reardon, a managing partner of New Start Development, told ThisWeek they had appealed to Swensons for a restaurant. Swensons is based in northeast Ohio.
"There is no commitment (but the developer) has presented us with his proposal," Ron Dee, vice president of real estate for Swensons, said in June.
In 2017, Moore and Reardon had presented a proposal to city and Hilliard City Schools leaders to develop two lots adjacent to J.W. Reason.
Assistant Superintendent Mike McDonough said in June the district was "continuing to work" with the developers to negotiate the cost of relocating sidewalks and installing a gate at the site.
Now, Reardon said, the developers have reached an agreement with the school district that allows shared access to the school's driveway, except for a 30-minute period at the start and end of days when school is in session.
"We are also building new sidewalks and a gate," Reardon said.
The new sidewalks would be on both the east and west sides of the new driveway and the gate would be used to restrict access between the driveways during the arrival and departure of school buses, Reardon said.
The developers would pay the district about $46,000 toward the cost of a new driveway the district already has installed and about $12,000 to build new sidewalks, he said.
The drive-in restaurant would have full access from Cemetery Road, just west of the school's driveway, he said.
City leaders, meanwhile, have weighed in on traffic and land-use considerations.
"From a traffic standpoint, staff has expressed concern about the location of a high-trip generating use at this location," said Letty Schamp, the deputy city engineer, in June. "We have encouraged the developer to seek out another location (but) if they decide to move forward, they would need to submit a traffic study."
Schamp said Aug. 3 that a traffic study had been submitted but it did not have the support of city officials, even though traffic was "secondary."
"The predominant issue with the application is land use; traffic is secondary," Schamp said Aug. 6.
City officials have concerns about the gated access to the J.W. Reason driveway, Schamp said.
"A variable-access condition may result in driver confusion as vehicles attempt to enter the site from the school driveway and find it closed sometimes," she said.
In addition, six single-family homes are on the south side of Cemetery Road and westbound motorists entering these driveways currently do so using the center turning lane, Schamp said.
The proposed restaurant would cause more eastbound motorists to use the lane for left turns into the new site, she said.
"During nonpeak periods, this is not expected to present a problem; however, this will result in greater conflict during the afternoon peak period, potentially pushing the westbound left-turning lane into the westbound through lane," Schamp said.
Reardon said Aug. 6 that the lack of support from city officials does not concern him.
"We did a traffic study and it shows no impact," Reardon said.
The developers suggested the Cemetery Road curb cut have right-in and right-out access only, but city leaders are recommending full access, he said.
Reardon also said the proposed use would have a lower impact than almost any other project a developer could suggest, and he believes city officials simply don't "like the results" of the traffic study or the proposal.
"They're being ridiculous," he said.