Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Newport angles for Golden Corral on U.S. 27 site

Next move is planning and zoning

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Frisch's is negotiating with the owners of Yellow Cab/Executive Transportation to buy the former Neltner property on U.S. 27 for a Golden Corral buffet restaurant.

        Newport Community Services Director Chris Novak and Economic Development Director Pat Wingo told city commissioners at a Monday night meeting where negotiations stand between the two parties and asked for a resolution to present the plan to the planning and zoning commission.

        “The proposal from Golden Corral would require a zone map change for part of the property,” City Manager Phil Ciafardini said.

        Commissioners unanimously approved sending the plan to the planning and zoning commission.

        Yellow Cab bought the piece of land across U.S. 27 from the Newport Shopping Center with the idea of moving cab, limousine and charter bus operations to that location.

        They were denied some of the necessary zone changes by the city board of adjustments and subsequently filed suit last year. The suit was settled with the board of adjustments changing its decision.

        Since then, however, the owners have changed their minds about moving and placed the property — the former home of the Neltner tire store, gas station and food mart — on the market.

        Several neighbors along 18th and 19th streets near the site had opposed the plan for cabs and buses to operate out of the location, but Mr. Ciafardini said he had talked with several residents and they were much more receptive to a Golden Corral.

        Mr. Novak said a zone map change would be required because the restaurant would have to be moved back further from U.S. 27 than current zoning allows. The zone would be residential-commercial where there is now a nonconforming-use designation.

        “The EPA has monitors in the area of three gas tanks to determine if there is any contamination,” Mr. Novak said. “The restaurant can't disturb those monitors, so they would have to be further back from the street than originally thought.”

        If it is determined that no ground contamination exists, the fuel tanks would be removed.

        The initial drawings presented to commissioners showed three entry/exit points, at U.S. 27, 18th Street and 19th Street.

        “I would question the need for three entry/exit points,” Commissioner Beth Fennell said.

        “It seems excessive. But I do think this is a much better plan for the site than a 24-hour cab and bus business. I hope (Golden Corral) is willing to work with us on some issues that might arise, like exits on 18th and 19th.”

        Frisch's, which at one time operated a Frish's Big Boy restaurant just across 19th Street from the proposed site, also has Golden Corral restaurants in Ohio suburbs of Cincinnati.


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