WATERTOWN — You’ll have to wait until fall 2022 before you can get one of those chicken sandwiches and special dipping sauce from the Chick-fil-A proposed at the City Center plaza.
Jefferson County planners learned Tuesday from a company representative that construction of 5,000-square-foot Chick-fil-A restaurant won’t begin until the fall. The drive-thru restaurant won’t open until a year later.
The county’s Planning Board reviewed the project’s site plans Tuesday. The city’s Planning Board will get a first look at the plans Feb. 2.
The Chick-fil-A would be built at the site of the now-closed Ruby Tuesday restaurant in the sprawling plaza at Arsenal Street and Interstate 81. Ruby Tuesday would be demolished to make way for the Chick-fil-A.
The restaurant would have seating for 104 inside, 28 seats outside and a 61-space parking lot.
Rumors first circulated that Chick-fil-A was coming to that exact location before the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, much of the Planning Board’s discussion revolved around potential traffic congestion that could be caused by the drive-thru window. That’s happened in other communities where Chick-fil-A restaurants were constructed, especially when they first opened, Senior Planner Andrew R. Nevin said.
“The drive-thru could be tricky,” Planning Board member Clif Schneider said.
The county board suggested that the city’s Planning Board should be concerned with the issue when it comes before that board. While the county board merely makes suggestions, the city’s Planning Board recommends approval to the City Council, which has final say.
The drive-up window would face Starbuck’s and have a double lane drive-up that would wrap around the building on three sides, according to Mr. Nevin.
It’s good that the restaurant wouldn’t have direct access from Arsenal Street, but, instead, from Western Boulevard and then through a series of roads within the plaza, he said.
The traffic pattern with the plaza should be determined by the city Planning Board, he said.
“I hope that to be resolved before it gets to be crisis mode,” Mr. Nevin said.
He liked the landscaping plans presented by Timothy Freitag, an engineer with Boehlert Engineering working on the project for Georgia-based Chick-fil-A. Mr. Freitag also told the county board the site would have more green space for snow removal than Ruby Tuesday had, so that should not be an issue.
In addition to the site plan approval, the project will need an area variance because the ordering copy will be about 38 feet from the property line when 50 feet is needed.
The closest Chick-fil-A — known for the “original chicken sandwich” — is in Cicero, Onondaga County, and another one is planned to open in April in Liverpool, also in Onondaga County. Plattsburgh, Clinton County, also has a franchise.