LAKEWOOD - The site plan for the proposed Olive Garden restaurant could be approved by the Lakewood Planning Board by the end of November.
The Lakewood Planning Board met recently to discuss the preliminary site plan for the proposed Olive Garden Restaurant, which is owned by Darden Restaurants. According to the minutes from the meeting, Neil Terwilliger, Darden Restaurants site development manager, said the restaurant company, which also owns the Red Lobster in Lakewood, is planning to purchase the former Firestone Auto Center from Simon Properties, Chautauqua Mall owners. Terwilliger said the plan is to tear down the former Firestone building to construct a 7,357 square-foot Olive Garden restaurant. Darden would purchase 2.49 acres of land from Simon Properties for the proposed restaurant.
One area of concern for the developers deals with a local zoning law dealing with off-street parking. The question is whether parking would be allowed on the front north side of the restaurant toward East Fairmount Avenue. Lakewood's zoning law states that no parking spaces shall be located within a front yard.
Terwilliger said a majority of the large green space along Route 394 would be maintained, but reduced from 24,000 to 22,000 square feet. He said the site plan proposes to have 144 parking spots, with five handicapped spaces, located in the front, back and sides of the restaurant.
Herbert Hern, Planning Board member, said the green space in front is more than adequate. Jon Pearson, Lakewood Planning Board chairman, told Terwilliger the project can move forward as proposed.
Terwilliger said he expects to be back in a month or so with the final site plans for approval by the Planning Board. He said once approved, construction would start mid-winter.