Chick-fil-A, a Georgia-based chain with almost 3,000 restaurants across the United States, has proposed its first location in Lebanon County at 1147 Quentin Road.

LebTown file photo of the former Golden Corral in North Cornwall Township, which is now being targeted for the county’s first Chick-fil-A franchise location.

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On June 28, the North Cornwall Township Planning Commission discussed their main concern with the land development plan – traffic blocking the access road and related safety concerns, such as potential rear-end collisions – for almost an hour.

Ultimately, the commission unanimously voted to recommend that township supervisors move forward with the Chick-fil-A land development plan without reconstructing the existing right-turn taper along the southbound lane of Quentin Road into a formal right-turn lane.

Although the prospect of upgrading the right-in, right-out driveway for the Lebanon Plaza into a full right-turn lane was discussed, North Cornwall Township’s planning commission voted to recommend that township supervisors move forward with the Chick-fil-A land development plan without requiring that measure. Public comment during the discussion supported Chick-fil-A’s desire to move forward with the land development plan without the construction of a formal right-turn lane. (Google Maps)

In a letter reviewing an updated transportation impact study on behalf of the township, Mark Henise, director of transportation engineering at ELA Group Inc., recommended the right-turn lane. Henise wrote the projected increase in traffic for the restaurant would “far exceed the warrant thresholds” during the weekday midday and evening and Saturday midday peak hours.

Tyler Prime, a partner at Prime & Tuvel, said it would be unlikely that his client, Chick-fil-A, would continue pursuing the project if the right-turn lane was required. He reiterated the sentiment throughout the discussion, citing the cost and time associated with the construction.

Constructing the right-turn lane would involve installing retaining walls partially or entirely in the right-turn lane to account for the elevation difference between Quentin Road and Lebanon Plaza. It would also involve relocating several utility poles – one of which has three transformers on it – and removing existing trees that serve as a buffer between the former Golden Corral property and the road. The construction would also prevent sidewalks from being installed in the area in the future.

If the right-turn lane would be required, Chick-fil-A would need to obtain lease rights to complete the construction, as the lease they are currently negotiating is strictly for the parcel.

Chick-fil-A entered the discussion with hopes of working with the planning commission to find an alternative solution for managing traffic at the site. Sandy Koza, traffic engineer at McMahon, a Bowman company, accompanied Prime to discuss how she interpreted the data from the updated transportation impact study.

Koza said the restaurant would have three drive-thru order lanes that would merge into two lanes for order pick-up. The drive-thru lanes, being about 1,173 feet total, would be able to accommodate 53 vehicles, with about 23 feet per vehicle, based on other studies findings.

Koza said the restaurant’s central location within the plaza would allow for on-site stacking. Further, Koza said Chick-fil-A does not anticipate more than 35 vehicles in the queue, which they could accommodate on-site.

The newer Chick-fil-A locations, including this proposed location, are designed with about half of its interior space being dedicated as a kitchen and prep area. This allows space for more equipment, and more modern equipment is being installed. In addition, a slide-in door allows staff to take customers’ orders and payments at the same time and control traffic, keeping the queue moving.

“We’re pretty confident that we have enough spacing on-site here to accommodate our queues and that we’re not going to impact Quentin Road up here at all in terms of any type of traffic backup related to this site.”

“We have two different experts saying two different things,” Paul Weidman said. “You’re [referring to Koza] an expert in traffic, and you’re not seeing the issue. And this consultant [referring to Henise] did. Has there been any conversation between you and this consultant, as to your assumptions and how they were made, to see what this difference may be? Or is that not permissible to do?”

Koza responded that they had not had that type of conversation, though they are disagreeing on the interpretation of the data, not the data itself.

The planning commission wanted to avoid traffic congestion at the intersection, potentially similar to the recently opened Starbucks. The proposed Chick-fil-A is estimated to bring about a 10 to 20 percent increase in traffic to the intersection. However, Koza said that about 60 percent of entering traffic uses the drive-thru, and 40 percent parks to order inside or pick up their order curbside.

Throughout the discussion, some ideas the planning commission kicked around but ultimately did not act upon included having Chick-fil-A create and present a sketch of a formal right-turn lane at the location to the planning commission; having Chick-fil-A schedule a scoping meeting with PennDOT about what the construction project would encompass; and having Chick-fil-A open for business and, after six months, the planning commission would reevaluate whether the construction of a right-turn lane would be warranted.

Public comment during the discussion supported Chick-fil-A’s desire to move forward with the land development plan without the construction of a formal right-turn lane.

The planning commission also unanimously voted to:

KIT Property Management chose to table the scheduled discussion of its land development plan at 870 Tuck St. for next month’s planning commission meeting on July 26.

The North Cornwall Township Planning Commission consists of Robert Gearhart (chair), Ed Copenhaver (vice-chair), Ken Funk (secretary), Jim Brandt, and Paul Weidman. Their meetings start at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month in their respective room at the North Cornwall Township building.

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Lexi Gonzalez is a reporter for LebTown. She is currently completing her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.


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