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Site plan for Olive Garden approved by county planners

January 09, 2007|by TARA REILLY

Although concerned about increased traffic, the Washington County Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved the site plan for an Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, set to open on Valley Mall property just outside of Hagerstown.

The restaurant will be built at the site of Firestone Tire and Service and Christian Light Bookstore. The building that houses those businesses will be demolished.

Planning commission members anticipated the restaurant would be popular in the community, drawing concerns about traffic along Valley Mall Road, which runs in front of the site.

Planning officials said they expect the restaurant to increase traffic from Underpass Way and from Massey and Halfway boulevards into the Olive Garden entrance.

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"I can see traffic on Friday and Saturday nights being backed up," Planning Commission Chairman George Anikis said.

"It already backs up," commission member Terry Reiber said.

Commission member Linda Parrish said she was concerned restaurant patrons would park in the mall parking lot and cross a busy Valley Mall Road to Olive Garden.

Anikis suggested a striped crosswalk be installed.

Olive Garden hopes to open at the end of October or in early November, a restaurant spokeswoman said last month.

A new Firestone will be built behind the mall near Country Inn and Suites. The bookstore is moving to Crosspoint shopping center on the other side of the mall.

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