The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 26, 2013

Monroe Township reviews plans for restaurant, store and motel

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— HUMMELS WHARF — Two long-vacant and highly visible spots on the Strip may soon be occupied by a Texas Roadhouse restaurant and Turkey Hill convenience store-gas station.

The two new businesses are among several proposals being brought before the Monroe Township Planning Commission.

The Turkey Hill, proposed for the former site of the Golden Corral Restaurant, which has been vacant for more than two years, and the Texas Roadhouse, proposed for the former site of Ruby Tuesday, both along Routes 11-15, are up for review, as well as a hotel from a major chain proposed for Monroe Marketplace, next to Kohl’s Department store.

Robert Wheeland, developer of the Texas Roadhouse, presented plans to the town Planning Commission on Monday. He said the vacant Ruby Tuesday building, which has sat empty for nearly six years following several fires, will be torn down to clear room for the larger steakhouse restaurant. It will be built adjacent to the recently opened Panera Bread bakery-cafe.

Dan Millet, a Scranton Realtor, appeared before the commission to discuss plans to bring an unidentified hotel to the township. He’s proposing a four-story structure, but the township allows only three-story or 40-foot high buildings for fire safety.

Millet suggested the hotel would be just under 40 feet tall, but township solicitor Charles Axe said it would still not comply with the three-story limitation and recommended he request a variance from the zoning hearing board or appeal to the township supervisors.

“There’s no question we would like your tax dollars and the employees you’d hire,” Axe said.

A smaller business proposal will need public approval before township officials will give the go-ahead to a drive-through convenience store on the Old Trail.

The township Board of Supervisors is expected to decide at its public meeting tonight whether to hold a public hearing on a zoning ordinance amendment allowing retail as a conditional use in the village zone. If approved, the amendment would allow Williamsport businessman Greg Cendoma to open the drive-through convenience store at 1680 N. Old Trail.

Cendoma operates two similar stores in Williamsport and Hughesville.

The supervisors are interested in residents’ input because a small home-business proposal was denied several years ago due to public opposition.

Cendoma recently presented the board with a petition signed by about three dozen residents in support of his store.