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New Arby's Coming to Bellevue After Company Agrees to Design Rules

Arby's got the go-ahead at the Bellevue Board of Adjustments meeting on Thursday to construct a new building on Donnermeyer Drive that conforms to the city's form-based code. 
 
The decision to move forward comes more than one year after Arby's representatives told the city that it would not construct a new building because it could not adapt to the form-based code.
 
The form-based code was adopted in Bellevue in 2010 as an effort to maintain its historic charm and spread that look throughout the rest of the town. It encourages pedestrian-friendly development with less emphasis on parking lots. Arby's sits in an area of the city that has been dominated by more suburban-style developments, such as a shopping center.
 
Restaurant Management Incorporated, which operates the Arby's as part of sixty-five fast food franchises it owns across Greater Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee, needed the city to approve two variances to the form base code in order to obtain the necessary zoning permit to begin construction on the new Arby's building which could begin sometime around the early fall.  
 
The issue had gone back and forth a bit internally at Arby's where originally the plan was for a new building all along, but the fast food chain then reconsidered at a February meeting and favored remodeling the existing restaurant there instead.
 
"Then they decided to go back and build a new building," said Bellevue City Zoning Administrator Scott Enns after the meeting on Thursday. "So they have a site plan that was approved, it was code compliant for the building, but they needed two variances. Both of which were around signage. " 
 
The first variance requested that Arby's could install a second permanent sign on the building. The code only allows one. The variance now allows putting signs on two different facades. 
 
The second request was to incorporate a message board into the monument sign.
 
"The monument sign as far as the size and the external light, was all up to code, but to incorporate any kind of message board, whether electronic or manual, they required a variance and that's what we were deciding tonight," Enns said.  "We agreed to the variances with 15 conditions of how that message board will operate."
 
Bellevue has made it a priority to preserve the vision of the city's business district when negotiating with new businesses and existing ones that want to make changes.  Kroger and Bellevue are still hashing out details to allow a gas station at the grocery store there that will require the approval of multiple variances for that to happen.  Enns and the other city officials are excited to use the new Arby's as an example of how business can successfully operate in Bellevue within the parameters of the form base code.
 
"The purpose being the visual quality of the district," he said.  "It's a very important project and we're very happy that they're coming back with the new building because it is one of the first opportunities to show other potential tenants in the corridor a look of new construction based upon the form base code."
 
Arby's next step will be to submit to Campbell County officials for a commercial building permit.  Bellevue Board of Adjustments will grant them all the variances they need so they are granted a zoning permit to construct a new building with the two variances. 
 
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor