CW relents on Panera Bread’s request

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Panera Bread appealed a Canal Winchester planning and zoning commission denial of a permit for a drive-up window at the company’s proposed restaurant at 685 W. Waterloo St.

Earlier this spring, the planning and zoning commission ruled, “…evidence indicates the Panera Bakery and Café…will adversely impact access traffic and other public services. The proposed drive-up window will cross the pedestrian sidewalk connection, which creates a hazard for pedestrians and conflicts with the purpose of making the area pedestrian friendly. The location of the drive-up window in the center of the site will also cause a disruption of the flow and circulation of vehicular traffic, given that stacking may backup into the main drive aisle of the parking lot.”

However, Panera Bread representatives noted surrounding businesses with drive up windows that cross pedestrian sidewalks.

“This is both a safe situation and one that will benefit Canal Winchester,” said attorney Joseph Miller, who stated planners anticipate more in-store dining compared with fast-food establishments that are more dependent on drive-thru traffic.

Panera Bread franchisee Covelli Enterprises spokesperson Allen Ryan said restaurants equipped with a drive-thru average 30 percent of their business through their drive-thru and the busiest part of the day for vehicular traffic is between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with approximately 80 cars accessing the drive-thru during the three-hour period.

“It’s not excessive (amount of cars),” said Ryan. “We don’t have a stacking issue in any of our current drive-thrus.”

Planning and zoning commission member Bill Christensen said the commission’s goal was to make the area more pedestrian friendly and, according to the design, pedestrians would have to cross a driveway.

Councilman Steve Donahue said he researched a similar Panera Bread already in operation and did not observe an inordinate number of cars or a stacking problem during his visit. He said pedestrians routinely cross driveways and streets throughout the Gender Road area.

Canal Winchester City Council upheld the appeal and overturned the commission’s decision. City Law Director Gene Hollins said the permit is one step in the process and discussions between the commission and company representatives will continue.

Other Canal Winchester news

Drivers cited for parking in a fire lane will no longer be able to rely on a waiver provision in reducing their fine below $10.

Council adopted an ordinance amending the city code and eliminating the waiver, which previously reduced the $50 citation to $7 without costs if a written guilty plea was delivered in person within 48 hours or $12 if delivered after 48 hours.

According to Public Works Director Matt Peoples, the amendment brings the offense citation in line with other traffic offenses. The last time the regulation was reviewed was in the mid-1990s and the present action was taken to update the code and deter further violations.

Violators are charged with a minor misdemeanor on their first offense; on the second offense within one year after the first offense, the person could be found guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. With each subsequent offense within one year after the first offense, the driver will be charged with a misdemeanor of the third degree.

A repeat violation earns the driver a trip to mayor’s court, where court fines are set by a magistrate.

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