Another portion of the plans to bring Cheddar's Casual Cafe to the South Danville Bypass gained approval Tuesday from the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning, but the company must meet a list of conditions in order for the site plan to be official.
P&Z voted 4-2 to approve a site plan for the Cheddar's restaurant adjacent to Walmart, if the company meets certain conditions. The conditions include obtaining necessary signatures from utility suppliers for the property, official ownership information and approval for a variance allowing a shorter distance setback from the road.
The plan calls for the restaurant to locate on the 2.05-acre plot on the corner of Walton Avenue and Walton Crossing, which is owned by Walmart. The plot had been set aside as green space until P&Z granted the retail chain's request to do away with a conservation easement at its meeting last month.
Jeff Baird — who questioned approving plans with so many missing pieces — joined Marion White in voting against the site plan.
Jihad Hallany, an attorney for Cheddar’s, said company officials wanted to see some positive signs from P&Z about the direction of the project they are ready to move forward with immediately. According to Hallany, some of the conditions had not been met because the company had only begun addressing them after the P&Z technical review meeting the previous Thursday.
Another unsettled part of the Cheddar's plan includes buying a portion of property put up for bid by the city last month. The property will be used for parking, and the bids will be opened July 27.
Cheddar's restaurants typically have at least 200 parking spaces, but Hallany said the company can move forward with 175 spaces for the Danville location. P&Z would only require 116 spaces, but Hallany said Tuesday not getting at least 175 would be enough to halt the project.
In June, the City Commission voted to surplus a small tract of land owned by the city, which includes a pump station. The land has been put up for bids with a number of conditions, which includes the buyer agreeing to do grading work for the realignment of nearby Popplewell Road.
The City Commission also approved Walmart's intended changes to Walton Avenue, a city-maintained right-of-way. City staff have worked on redesigning Popplewell Lane, which runs behind Walmart and could form another entrance farther south.
Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad was in attendance at the P&Z meeting and spoke on behalf of what he said was a reasonable request from Cheddar's to get approval before they invested more money in buying the land.
P&Z director Paula Bary said the remaining conditions the restaurant must meet may not seem significant, but getting signatures from utilities on a site plan, particularly for property previously not intended for commercial use, is an important step. For instance, Bary noted, there currently is no sewer service to the property.
Hallany said Cheddar’s already has spoken with the city about numerous possibilities for extending sewer service to the lot.
Bary said portions of the project — both the plat for the property and the Cheddar's site plan — would likely come back to P&Z for approval once the additional property is officially added. When or if the restaurant does return, P&Z chairman Jerry Leber told Hallany he would like to see plans ready for approval without a laundry list of conditions.
During a presentation to the City Commission in December, Lee Greer, whose Greer Companies in Lexington owns Cheddar's across the state and region, said the restaurant would seat up to 400 people, employ 200 mostly part-time employees and could generate more than $6 million in sales, judging by the market.
Walmart also received approval last month for a plat amendment to allow a Murphy USA gas station at the north end of the store's parking lot.