NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The Newtown Township Planning Commission reached a consensus on July 7 to support an amended zoning relief application for a number of new improvements being proposed at the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road.
The center is anchored by ACME and is also home to a Bed, Bath & Beyond and a Staples store, along with a Chick-Fil-A, an Applebee’s Bar and Grill and a Corner Bakery Cafe.
In its amended application, Newtown/Bucks Associates LP is seeking variances to construct a 400 square foot addition to the kitchen of the popular Chick-Fil-A fast food eatery and for a number of roadway improvements to eliminate congestion in and around the restaurant.
“The Chick-Fil-A as it is currently constituted has significant stacking issues,” said the shopping center’s attorney Michael J. Meginniss. “These two issues, taken in tandem, would result in a substantial improvement.”
During busy days, especially holidays, the drive-thru lanes at the eatery back up onto West Road and sometimes as far as Durham Road creating traffic congestion in and around the shopping center.
The kitchen expansion is designed to reduce service time per order and improve traffic flow around the eatery, said Meginniss.
In addition, plans call for the creation of a dedicated right turn lane into the eatery from West Road to prevent traffic backups at the entrance to the restaurant and to allow traffic headed west to Staples and Bed, Bath and Beyond to continue unimpeded.
Other proposed improvements designed to improve traffic cueing and to eliminate backups include the addition of a second drive-thru lane on the Staples side of the eatery.
“We think the addition of the second drive-thru lane is going to have a drastic reduction in the service time and allow for greater circulation,” said Meginniss.
The shopping center owner is also seeking variances from the township’s zoning hearing board for the construction of a new 12,500 square foot retail building to house an Old Navy retail store along with 80 new parking spaces.
The proposed new free standing Old Navy store would be built next to the Bed, Bath & Beyond store adjacent to the Acme shopping center and backing up to the Council Rock North property.
The Newtown store would be the third in Bucks County for the popular brick and mortar retail clothing store owned by GAP Inc. Its other locations in Bucks are in Falls and Warminster townships.
The township’s zoning Hearing Board is scheduled to hear the amended application at its August 6 meeting.
At its July 8 meeting, the board of supervisors followed the planning commission’s recommendation and voted not to oppose the application, although supervisor John Mack expressed frustration that the proposed Old Navy store and Chick-Fil-A improvements are part of the same application.
Mack, while supportive of the traffic improvements at the fast food eatery, expressed skepticism as to whether Old Navy would be a good fit for the shopping center and for Newtown.
“I think the Chick-Fil-A improvements are really needed, although I’m not quite sure it will work as planned,” said Mack. “But the Old Navy, as far as I’m concerned, is probably something that may not fit in Newtown, but I guess that’s up to the landlord.”
Meanwhile, next door at the Village at Newtown, contractors continue to put the finishing touches on a multimillion dollar expansion project as stores and restaurants open inside three new buildings adjacent to McCaffrey’s Food Market.
This year, a number of new restaurants and eateries have opened their doors there, including Solstice, Chipotle, MOD Pizza and Iron Hill Brewery. Coming soon are Ulta Beauty, which is nearing completion next to Iron Hill, and Bomba Tacos and Rum.