Second Raising Cane's proposed for Lehigh Valley
- A second Raising Cane's chicken restaurant is in the works for the Lehigh Valley, this time in Hanover Township, Lehigh County
- The project received its first approvals from the township's Planning Commission, dealing with parking at the site, at a meeting Tuesday
- Plans for another Cane's in Lower Macungie Twp. received land development approval in early August.
HANOVER TWP., Pa. — A Raising Cane’s chicken restaurant won its first approval from Hanover Township planners Tuesday night, the first step toward a second planned Cane’s in the Lehigh Valley.
A former Friendly’s Restaurant at 1836 Catasauqua Road, near Lehigh Valley International Airport, would be torn down and replaced with an 88-seat Cane’s with a double drive-through and additional patio seating outside.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, chain essentially only sells fried chicken fingers, paired with Texas toast, coleslaw, fries and a cup of secret sauce. The company currently boasts more than 740 locations in 38 U.S. states and the Persian Gulf region.
None of those, however, are in the Lehigh Valley; currently, the closest are near New York City, Trenton and Philadelphia.
Another Raising Cane's, proposed for 6240 Hamilton Blvd. in Lower Macungie Township, won land development approval from township commissioners last month, putting it solidly ahead of the Hanover Township project in the development process, but still a long way from selling chicken.
Tuesday’s approval dealt narrowly with parking for the new Hanover Twp. restaurant. To meet township rules on the minimum number of parking spaces, developers need to count spaces legally shared with the nearby Red Roof Inn.
But to count those shared spaces as effectively “theirs” for planning purposes, representatives for the proposed Cane’s need to convince the Planning Commission that their customers and those at the existing hotel are unlikely to need those spaces at the same time.
“The ordinance requires us to show you that you shouldn't say to us, ‘Well, I know you've got the right to use those, but you're not allowed to use them in your count of required spaces,’” the project’s lawyer, Erich Schock, told the commission.
“We have to show you that [Red Roof Inn customers] won’t have a reason to park there when we need to park there.”
Schock, backed by project engineer Kevin Tatlow and Raising Cane’s representative Anna Weisele, told the commission that the restaurant’s traffic usually peaks around mealtimes, while the Red Roof Inn’s peaks later in the evening, around 9 p.m.
By signing an agreement with the lot’s former occupants that carries over with the land, Schock said, the Red Roof Inn has effectively signed off on future developments using the shared parking.
The planning commission ultimately voted unanimously to grant a special exception moving the project forward.
Separately from the parking issues addressed Tuesday, Schock said, the project still needs an exception to township rules on how close buildings can be to property boundaries.
Current plans call for an awning, used by employees taking drive-through orders on foot, that breaches the required buffer zone between the restaurant building and the property line.
Even if they’re granted the variance, developers still need land development approval and other permissions from the planning commission to move forward.
“We’re excited to be here, and look forward to the next step,” Weisele said.