Granville is known as a village that doesn’t embrace fast-food restaurants. In fact, zoning regulations adopted after Wendy’s and Arby’s opened on the east side of the village along Rt. 16 virtually prohibit fast-food restaurants.
But with changes in technology and food service developed during COVID, village officials say, they are embracing the concept of food pick-up windows. This could pave the way for a new development just south of the Granville Township firehouse, which is at 500 S. Main St.
The village council on Wednesday approved changes in the zoning code that would allow businesses with food pick-up windows in the Village Gateway District, which is the Main Street corridor south of the bridge over Raccoon Creek and along River Road.
What’s the difference between a drive-thru window and a pick-up window?
A drive-thru has one or more kiosks, where customers can “ruminate over the menu, order, then drive up to a window to pay and then a second window to pick up their order,” said Village Manager Herb Koehler said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
With a pick-up window, as defined in the language approved Wednesday, a customer would order in advance online or with a phone call or app, pay in advance and simply drive up to a window and pick up the order.
Koehler and Darryll Wolnik, village planning and development director, said in the conference call on Thursday that the village staff proposed the new language because of the changes in food service and technology, and that was inspired in part by a company that owns land on South Main Street and is considering a commercial center that could include a restaurant pick-up window.
Village officials said they have seen conceptual development plans by the owners of land between the Granville Township Fire Department building and the Cedar & Thread boutique at 1919 Lancaster Road.
The owner, Mill District LLC, is considering two buildings, one with five commercial spaces facing Lancaster Road, and one with one commercial space facing River Road. In concept, the buildings would look similar to those in the Middleton Senior Living complex on Weaver Drive at Columbus Road, Koehler said.
One of those commercial spaces in the complex could be a restaurant with a pick-up window, Wolnik said, adding that it’s a concept at this point and that if and when a formal proposal is made, it would go through the traditional zoning and planning review process.
A distinction between a pick-up window and a drive-thru, Wolnik said, is that a pick-up window could not be visible from the road – it would have to be screened from view – and that it would not have “the visual and auditory impact of the traditional drive-thru kiosk.”
Granville resident Dan Bellman, a former city council member, spoke during the council meeting on Wednesday, raising concerns about whether the language change could actually open the Gateway District to fast-food drive-thrus, given their use of apps for ordering food, and about traffic congestion and the transparency of the process of changing the zoning.
Bellman said village officials should have shared the land owner’s development plans as context for changing the zoning language. Koehler and Wolnik said on Thursday that they saw the concept of a plan, but not a formal plan, and that they couldn’t share many more details at this point.
Koehler said, however, that if it comes to pass, he believes that Granville residents will be pleased because it would bring in businesses that some residents have requested.
To Bellman’s other points, Wolnik said the zoning language change won’t allow drive-thrus because fast-food restaurants with drive-thrus would have to take all orders and payment online, which none do, and its unlikely they could comply with village regulations for aesthetics. Wolnik also said that a traffic study would be done if the proposal moves forward.
Thu Nguyen writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of the Denison University Journalism program, which is funded in part by the Mellon Foundation. Alan Miller, of The Reporting Project, contributed to this story. [email protected]