The Newberry Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the development plan for a commercial building, adding a drive-through restaurant and three commercial spaces across from Oak View Middle School. But Newberry residents will have to wait a little while longer to learn what restaurant will occupy the space.
The commission considered the plan after its regular meeting Monday night, when developer JBrown Professional Group gave a presentation to the Board of Adjustment, which includes commissioners and key city staff.
The board was positive about the project but raised concerns about the potential for traffic to pile up and put children’s safety at risk.
After a lengthy discussion, the board added a condition to the approval. It suggests better traffic flow for the 4,500-square-foot building parking lot, which will consist of reducing the number of parking spaces and making the spaces larger at the site.
In addition, the board discussed future options for better traffic control of the nearby roads surrounding the future commercial building.
“We plan on opening another access for Newberry Place to get out on 15th, which would create a better flow for the nearby neighborhood,” Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said in an interview after the meeting. “This condition is not part of the applicant condition we added at the meeting tonight.”
A resident of Newberry Place brought attention to the morning traffic, which was the result of buses and parents dropping off students at the middle school.
“I think it is a valid concern, but it is a short window of one part of the day,” Marlowe said. “We are still unsure what restaurant will fill the space, so it might not have breakfast; it might open at lunch. We just aren’t sure yet of the restaurant or the hours of operation.”
As for the safety of the children, parents have concerns that Oak View Middle School students will have to walk through a busy drive-through parking lot to reach The Blend coffee shop, a popular after-school hangout on the other side.
“The safety of the kids is always first and foremost on this commission’s mind,” Marlowe said. “We work closely with the school board to ensure crossing guards are all around. I don’t think this will be a safety issue. I think it will be a congestion issue.”
The site for the four-tenant building is the corner of US-27 and SW 4th Avenue, which is a vacant lot between The Blend and Oak View Middle School.
During the meeting, JBrown Professional Group staff said they plan on breaking ground sometime in January 2023.
“I think that is very exciting,” Marlowe said. “Generally, after approval, a company would have to get funding and investments, but this applicant has all that finished and ready to go. We can be seeing a business there much sooner than what I anticipated, possibly in the next 12 months.”
Marlowe said Newberry only has two drive-through restaurants, Hardee’s and Dairy Queen, so the third is on its way.
“It is going to be fun,” he said. “Anytime you get a new restaurant, you know we love the restaurants we have here, but we need a little variety.”