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Planning commissioners concerned about traffic from proposed Sonic restaurant

October 12, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Two Hagerstown city planners voiced concerns Wednesday about possible traffic congestion from a planned Sonic drive-in restaurant along Dual Highway.

Sonic representatives appearing before the Hagerstown Planning Commission said they plan to seek waivers to some landscaping requirements.

Developers sometimes appear before the commission in a consultation meeting to determine how members feel about a project before they invest money in a plan.

At Sonic drive-ins, vehicles pull into a stall, view a menu and press a button for service. Orders are filled by “carhops” who sometimes travel on roller skates.

There will be no indoor seating at the proposed Sonic at 1710 Dual Highway, although there will be seating under outdoor canopies, said Tony Taylor of Frederick, Seibert and Associates, Inc., an engineering firm working on the project.

Taylor outlined various landscaping waivers project planners plan to request, including one from a requirement for a 6-foot planting strip around the drive-in. The waiver is needed because workers on roller skates need to have access around the building, Taylor said.

Officials said at the afternoon meeting that the building site is small, which is one of the reasons for the waivers.

Planning commission member Ron Thomas expressed concerns about traffic. He said a Dairy Queen along Dual Highway becomes a “real nightmare,” because of the large numbers of cars backing up on the roadway waiting to get into that eatery.

Thomas said officials recently finished dealing with a traffic bottleneck that occurred at the intersection of Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive near the proposed Sonic site.

“Now you’re putting something else here that will create another bottleneck,” Thomas said.

Planning commission Vice Chairman Jim Stone said traffic at the site will be a “huge issue” when the project goes up for site plan approval.

Thomas asked why the 1710 Dual Highway site, between a PNC bank and a driveway to a Hampton Inn, was chosen when the developers need the waivers.

Taylor said the developer wanted to be along Dual Highway, and most of the property along the road has been developed.

Project official John Louderback said he hopes to have the drive-in built and open by early next year.

The commission also approved final sites plans for the following projects:
• An addition for First Choice Pediatrics at 1409 Pennsylvania Ave.
• A two-story, 8,528-square-foot office building at Lyles Ventures at 12916 Conamar Drive.
• A proposed medical office facility at 246 Eastern Blvd. The Professional Center project involves converting a a former Food Lion supermarket into medical offices.
• A 25-foot-by-69-foot expansion to a building at Fire-X at 1011 McCauley Court.

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