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WHITE TOWNSHIP: Chipotle eatery eyes Oakland Ave.

by on April 09, 2014 10:55 AM

A national restaurant chain is moving to stake a claim along Oakland Avenue’s restaurant row.

If plans come to fruition, Chipotle Mexican Grill, a fast-food burrito shop, would be the latest to join the stretch of chain restaurants along one of White Township’s busiest thoroughfares.

As envisioned, the restaurant would open in a new 2,300-square-foot building at 1781 Oakland Ave., a site formerly occupied by Spotts Music Center. Spotts closed the store last year, and the building has sat vacant since.

The plan to bring in a Chipotle was revealed during a White Township planning commission meeting Tuesday. Commissioners reviewed a draft version of a site plan, but took no action.

According to assistant township manager Chris Anderson, the plan is to demolish the Spotts building, formerly a muffler shop, and erect a new one. Anderson said the commissioners probably will have to approve variances as the restaurant will encroach on setback lines by a few feet or a few inches.

The lot is hemmed in by Oakland Avenue in the front, Willis Drive in the rear and Laurel Street on the side. Anderson said other businesses in that same area also encroach on setbacks.

Chipotle has 37 locations in Pennsylvania, and the two closest are in Greensburg and Altoona. The restaurant, which is publicly held, would be a corporate-owned restaurant — the company doesn’t sell franchises.

If built, it would sit along a stretch of Oakland Avenue that already has a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s, a Long John Silver’s, a Burger King, a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks. And those are in addition to the other locally owned establishments along the same stretch, not to mention the other McDonald’s and the Pizza Hut further up the road at SouthTowne Plaza.

In other matters, the planning commission approved final site plans for a new S&T Bank branch office at 2455 Oakland Ave.

The new 5,300-square-foot office is meant to replace an existing office at that location. Bill Calhoun, a senior vice president who oversees the bank’s building and construction, said the bank intends to keep the existing office open as it builds the new office at the site.

Although smaller in square footage, the new, modern office will have four drive-thru lanes. Calhoun said it will replace an office that was erected in 1969.

Also Tuesday night, the planners heard from Nicola Lane residents who raised opposition to a proposed six-lot housing development off Ben Franklin Road. That development, a project of Dr. Roberto Turnbull, would carve up a wooded area into six lots, five of about a half-acre and one of two acres.

The five half-acre lots would front Nicola Lane. The sixth would be accessed from Ben Franklin Road.

Residents said stormwater runoff is a problem now in that area, and they said they worry that the project would only aggravate the problem. They also said they worry the project could lower property values, arguing that the smaller lots would mean smaller homes, which wouldn’t be consistent with the ones there now.

The commission tabled action on the plan pending an engineer’s review of the development’s proposed stormwater management plan.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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