A planning committee met Tuesday to review site plans for a Waffle House on land that was originally in line to become the home of a Beacon Inn hotel.
The next step for developers of the Waffle House, planned for the property at 102 Pearces Road, is to address comments from the meeting and resubmit their plans for another review by the town’s Technical Review Committee. Pending no setbacks, Zebulon Planner Julie Spriggs said the project could reach the building permit phase in as soon as four weeks.
“They had a great submittal,” Spriggs said of Hillsborough-based Summit Design and Engineering, which is contracted by Waffle House to prepare the plans. “There were not a lot of comments. One comment they need to change is they need to update their site plan to match the specifications in the town’s updated transportation plan, and there were some comments on landscaping.
“Really (we) just went through some housekeeping stuff to make sure everything is up to par.”
The site is zoned heavy business, meaning a public hearing and action by the town board are not required for the proposed restaurant.
Such measures were required for the hotel, a Raleigh-based Skybridge Group LLC project that received a mix of support and opposition before it fizzled.
The town’s planning board recommended denial of a request for a special use permit for the hotel in July, 2014 after hearing from several residents of the surrounding area who spoke out against the project. Zebulon commissioners, however, approved the permit request the next month.
But the 3-1 approval by the town board came with a condition, requiring the applicant to extend the hotel’s parking lot to the property line to make it easier to develop vacant land behind the proposed hotel site.
Developer Jerry Thomas said he didn’t want to extend the parking lot because it would turn the hotel parking lot into a pass-through for whatever business is ultimately built on the neighboring property.
Thomas said at the August meeting he did not see the requirement derailing the hotel project despite saying he was unhappy with the condition. But Planning Director Mark Hetrick said the town received a letter declining the special use permit several weeks after the town board approved the request.
Chad and Betty Ray own the property and intend to sell it to Waffle House, Chad Ray said Wednesday.
Ray said last year he had turned away other projects, including Waffle House, in an effort to pursue projects like a hotel that would facilitate growth in Zebulon.
“You never say never,” Ray said. “We still want a hotel for Zebulon, but how it played out in the permitting process got messed up a bit and that’s OK. At the end of the day, things work out for a reason, and this is no different.
Ray said he first proposed the Pearces Road site to Waffle House eight years ago.
“We know they’ve been looking at Zebulon for a long time and we know they are excited as much as we are to have them here,” Ray said.
Staff Writer Johnny Whitfield contributed to this report.