A new Chick-fil-A resturant could be opening along the already congested Business Route 1 strip between Route 24 and Main Street in Bel Air, where more than 32,000 cars travel daily, within the next six months, the town's planning director says.
The restaurant chain has submitted site plans for a new restaurant at the corner of Baltimore Pike and Kelly Avenue Extended, on a vacant lot next to the BB&T Bank branch. It would be next to Bel Air Town Center and across from Bel Air Plaza, according to Planning Director Kevin Small.
A Chick-fil-A at that site would be a welcome addition, Trish Heidenreich, director of economic development for the town, said Wednesday.
"I think it's great," she said. "It's going to be a nice complementary use."
The site and landscaping plans for the site, which Small said is a little more than an acre, will be presented June 1 to the Bel Air Planning Commission, which will determine if it's appropriate for the site.
The only special permission needed for the Chick-fil-A is for the drive-through, which Small said "sometimes creates issues that aren't normally encountered when looking at development."
He said the restaurant doesn't need any special permissions, but will need extra conditions to address the drive-through.
Traffic along Baltimore Pike is often heavy, Heidenreich conceded, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"Even though you might interpret it as an area of congestion, sometimes it's actually a good thing in a way because it means there's a lot of activity," she said. "It means we have a lot of services for our residents. That's also very attractive to site locators who are looking to put in restaurants and other uses in the Bel Air area. They look for high traffic areas."
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation's annual county-by-county traffic volume maps, average daily traffic volume on the stretch of Route 1/Baltimore Pike where Chick-Fil-A is going is 32,470 vehicles.
Downtown Bel Air has few drive-through fast food restaurants. Wendy's and Burger King used to be on Baltimore Pike, but they both closed years ago.
Only Taco Bell, in Bel Air Town Center, which is next to the proposed Chick-Fil-A site, and the McDonald's in Bel Air Plaza, across Route 1 from Town Center, remain.
"Chick-fil-A gives us a good variety of different things in that area," Heidenreich said. "I don't see it as direct competition with anything else."
The restaurant chain's closest restaurants to the downtown Bel Air area are on Route 24 in Forest Hill, north of town, and in the Constant Friendship area of Abingdon several miles to the south.
This story is updated from an earlier version to note the presence of a Taco Bell with drive-thru is in Bel Air Town Center, next door to the proposed Chick-Fil-A site.