The Pine Bluff Planning Commission unanimously approved a rezoning request by Lisciotti Development Corp. to rezone approximately 5.5 acres from R-1, Residential to B-3, Highway Commercial, located at the southeast corner of Olive Street and Interstate 530, a move that will make way for a Chick-fil-A franchise in Pine Bluff.
David Byrd, listed as the property owner according to the rezoning application, entered into a sale agreement on June 2 with Lisciotti Development Corp. of Leominster, Mass. Chad Brubaker, a representative of the development company, said the intent is to construct a 4,947-square-foot Chick-fil-A with a drive-through, outdoor dining and parking.
Contacted last week, Brubaker said he couldn't comment on the deal.
"We are actually in the application process with the city, so until that's resolved, we can't comment," he said.
Representing Lisciotti at the Planning Commission meeting held by Zoom on Tuesday was Bridgette Ganter. According to her LinkedIn account, Ganter is the branch manager at Bowman Consulting. A construction journal lists active Chick-fil-A projects under Bowman Consulting in several cities.
In several Georgia publications, including The Tucker Observer and decaturish.com, a community news website that reported on the Tucker Planning Commission Chick-fil-A application as well as the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and Development documents from July 2021, Ganter is listed as either a Chick-fil-A engineer or Chick-fil-A designer. Ganter told the Pine Bluff planning commissioners on Tuesday that the rezoning area was planned for "small commercial."
Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley confirmed previously that Chick-fil-A would come to Pine Bluff. Through partnerships between Go Forward Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff Community Development and Mayor Shirley Washington, Watley said, Go Forward brought the Chick-fil-A franchise to Pine Bluff, and he reiterated to commissioners on Tuesday the hard work and effort that had been put in on the project.
Larry Reynolds, director of Southeast Arkansas Regional Planning, provided his recommendations to the commissioners stating utilities, including wastewater capabilities, have been improved in the area and traffic volume along with commercial vehicle use has increased to a capacity that would appear to limit residential development. "Staff believes the action is consistent with the land use plan and that no loss of property value should occur," said Reynolds, who had been in communications with the Lisciotti firm for more than a year. "Therefore, staff recommends approval of the request."
According to the application, Chick-fil-A will occupy approximately 2.15 acres at the intersection with a portion of the parcel reserved for future development.
"These two commercial uses will access the site via a shared driveway on [U.S.] Highway 63," Brubaker said in the narrative explaining the reason for his rezoning request. "The remaining area of the west parcel, as well as the entirety of the east parcel, will remain undeveloped." In other business, the Pine Bluff Planning Commission also approved a use permit on review request (UPOR) to establish a food truck park at 2501 E. Harding Ave. in a B-3, General Commercial.
Candice Elrod, who owns the property, said she wants to make the space available for food trucks that can rent the space.
"I will have water on the property in my name and I will pay the bill as well as electric," said Elrod on her application request. "I will charge a monthly rent which will include utilities to the trucks."
Parking is already available, Elrod said, and she plans to provide an outside seating and dining area for the food truck patrons. According to Reynolds neither food trucks nor food truck parks are defined or identified within the zoning code.
"Although there have been several set up independently throughout the city, they are being loosely allowed as restaurants with little to no defined parking," he said. "The last area actually established as a food truck court was at Second and Pine; however, for multiple reasons, it has not drawn the needed traffic."
Reynolds said for a food truck park to work, it has to be easily accessible, convenient for the customer and efficient with regard to order delivery.
"The site on East Harding is a large lot with ample space, is already zoned commercial and has two points of ingress and egress," said Reynolds. "Though food trucks and food truck courts are not listed in the ordinance, restaurants are a permitted use." The layout design submitted as well as information regarding electrical connections are limited, according to Reynolds.
"Staff believes the proposed use of the property is acceptable and recommends approval subject to an improved and more accurate layout with dimensions being provided zoning staff," he said, "as well as more details of any utilities needed for Inspection and Fire Department approval."