NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The board of supervisors have granted MOD Pizza a conditional use application to operate a specialty restaurant in a currently under-construction section of the Village at Newtown Shopping Center at Eagle and Durham roads adjacent to McCaffrey's Market.
Voting unanimously for the project at the May 22 supervisors’ meeting were Chairman Phil Calabro, along with Supervisors Kyle Davis, Linda Bobrin, John Mack and Dennis Fisher.
Because the shopping center is zoned PC (Planned Commercial), the chain, which is defined as fine casual dining, needed conditional use approval to change that zoning to E-5/E-6 which allows for eateries to operate with designated nearby parking.
As a result, a public hearing had to be held, which lasted about 40 minutes.
The 2,804-square-foot restaurant, located at 2938 South Eagle Road, will have indoor seating for 83 customers with another 30 seats outside.
The restaurant will not have servers, with customers ordering and picking up the food to take to their seats.
The outdoor seating area will be cordoned off by a 42-inch-high black metal rail fence with wooden slats. No outside speakers or music are allowed.
Sufficient landscape buffering for the outdoor area is also required.
According to attorney Joe Blackburn, who represents the shopping center’s owner, Brixmor Property Group, MOD Pizza will have take-out service, but no drive through.
Because parking is at a premium in that area, the restaurant cannot set aside specific spaces for carry-out orders, a point stipulated by the township planning commission when it recommended conditional approval at its May 7 meeting.
In addition, the conditional use approval requires that the restaurant can only have up to four deliveries a week by box trucks during off hours in the morning.
The pizzeria will also have to coordinate those deliveries with other adjoining restaurants that are being built in that area so there would not be any traffic problems in the parking lot.
MOD Pizza can operate from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week with a maximum of 10 employees per shift.
Under an agreement with the Newtown Township, up to 15 restaurants are permitted to open in the Village at Newtown, which is undergoing an extensive $35-million restoration.
Several supervisors again expressed concerns if there will be enough parking around MOD Pizza, considering all the restaurants now being built in that area.
However, under a 2016 agreement with the township, the number of spaces is set at a certain amount per square footage, and cannot be renegotiated when each restaurant comes up for conditional use approval.
The board also questioned whether there would be enough outdoor dining for all the businesses planning to open in that L-shaped portion of the shopping center, which is being built on the site of the soon-to-be demolished Bank of America building.
“Every restaurant is coming and wanting outdoor eating,” noted Chairman Calabro.
However, Blackburn assured the board that an adjoining amphitheater-like area between the two strips will also be available for customers to use, so that each restaurant’s outdoor seating area will not become overcrowded.
MOD Pizza was founded in Seattle in 2008 and specializes in cooking artisan-style pizza in 800-degree Fahrenheit ovens for about three minutes.
MOD stands for “Made on Demand.”
According to the Bellevue, Washington-based company, each restaurant interior is different and “locally inspired.”
Home-made milkshakes and salads are also on the menu. Many of stores also serve beer and wine, but not the Newtown location.
Each pizza is made with organic dough and gourmet ingredients. Customers can choose their own toppings, or pick from designated combinations.
Dinners can also watch their pizzas being prepared and baked.
Since 2015, MOD Pizza’s expansion has skyrocketed, according to the company.
The chain now has more than 400 locations in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, with two 16 restaurants in Pennsylvania, as well as two locations each in Delaware and South Jersey.
Within the next five years, the company plans to have more than 1,000 restaurants.
MOD Pizza will be in the same area of the newly-constructed portion of the shopping center as Chipotle Mexican Grill, which the supervisors had given condition-use approval to in March, and the Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant which the board had approved last month.
In other action, on the recommendation of the township’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) the supervisors unanimously approved certificates of appropriateness for three existing businesses.
Affinity Land Services, a title company at 9 South Sycamore Street, is permitted to display a new sign, as well as make repairs to the roof, windows and door.
Guru’s Indian Restaurant, at 203 North Sycamore Street, can put new wooden signs on its facade, and Steven Robbins Eyewear, at 41 Cambridge Lane, can replace a storm-damaged sign.
And in a 5-0 vote, the supervisors awarded a $10,192.00 contract to low bidder T. Schiefer Contractors, Inc. to replace damaged portions of the concrete sidewalk in front of the township police department in the municipal complex on Durham Road.