With a little diplomacy and a lot of hard work, Westminster's city planning director has broken down the barricade between two area businesses.
The owners of a Popeyes restaurant franchise and Weis Markets are preparing an easement agreement that will allow the Westminster Planning and Zoning Commission to approve plans for the restaurant on Route 140 next month, said Thomas B. Beyard, the planning director.
"When it comes before the commission next month, it will be approved," Mr. Beyard said last night after the commission's meeting.
Mr. Beyard entered the negotiations between the supermarket management and Frank E. Dimick, owner of the franchise restaurant planned for the half-acre site of the former Vermont Federal Bank. The two businesses were at odds over an entrance to the Popeyes site from the Weis parking lot off Malcolm Road.
Mr. Dimick originally asked to build an entrance to the eatery off Route 140, south of the intersection with Route 97.
"Years ago, that might have been OK, but I took issue with that entrance with today's traffic," said Mr. Beyard. "It has to be limited to right turn only. During rush hours, motorists would not be able to exit the restaurant onto [Route] 140 anyway."
That left Mr. Dimick with the existing entrance to the restaurant property from the Weis parking lot. When he and the supermarket management could not reach an agreement on that entrance after several months, the store erected a barricade.
"I got with them both and we were able to work out a solution," said Mr. Beyard.
Mr. Dimick, who was not at the commission meeting last night, had asked the panel to withhold approval until he had the agreement in hand, said Mr. Beyard.
Before the commission gives its final approval, Mr. Dimick also must submit landscaping plans to meet city planning requirements and sign modifications.
The franchisee will use the existing building and build a 33-by-24-foot addition.
"It took a lot of hard work" to negotiate the agreement, said Mr. Beyard. "A planning director often has to be the mediator."