Aberdeen is still set to get a new Royal Farms convenience store on Route 40, but it will be on the former site of the Knights Inn Hotel near Edmund Street.
On Wednesday, the city's planning commission approved a preliminary site plan for the property, which would include a gas station and car wash.
The location is across the street from the site originally proposed, in the pocket of Newton Road, Route 40 and Route 7.
The business would sit on a 1.74-acre site that is one of two parcels in a strip owned by Bob Frankel, as Gerry Powell of Frederick Ward Associates told the planning commission.
The site had also been designated for Happy Harry's pharmacy and, until the recession began, a Wawa, but there are no plans for a pharmacy now, Powell said.
Public works director Matt Lapinsky recalled the former Knights Inn Hotel, which was notorious for such absentee management that homeless people began taking up residence in its rooms to watch free TV.
"My first year, we wrestled with the owner to get this place torn down so we could get something [good] put up there," Lapinsky said. "We finally got the thing torn down, which I thought was a great opportunity, a great occasion in time."
Lapinsky said he is eager to see Royal Farms come to fruition.
"It's really kind of nice to see this thing moving forward and it is our hope that this thing keeps moving forward with great speed," he said.
Jeff Bainbridge, real estate manager for Royal Farms, said the store would be built in the new Royal Farms design, similar to the one in Havre de Grace on Revolution Street that has a Tudor-style or village-like design and more stonework around the gas pumps.
The site is zoned B3, for highway commercial development, and is also in the downtown wellhead protection district.
The site across the street was likewise controversial for wellhead protection reasons, because of the proposed car wash use.
Powell said there are no plans to subdivide the property at this time.
An architectural review team had issues with signage and buffers, and wanted to see more trees and other screening, since the property backs up to a dense residential area.
Building the car wash requires a conditional use approval from the planning and public works departments because of the protection overlay district, planning and community development director Phyllis Grover said.
New apartment townhomes
A handful of rentable townhomes east of the railroad tracks at Routes 40 and 22 got preliminary approval, but the property owner will first deal with cleaning up arsenic and gasoline-related contaminants in its soil.
The Shelter Group's preliminary site plan for the Villages at Highland Commons, a 22-unit project near the Winston's Choice development, was approved by Aberdeen's planning commission Wednesday.
The project would be at Roosevelt and Polk streets. Taft Street was recently re-named Polk Street because of emergency service concerns, planning and community development Phyllis Grover said.
The Shelter Group also spearheaded the re-development of Baldwin Mill Apartments, now Highland Commons Apartments.