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Florence Gives Preliminary OK to New Chicken Restaurant, Residential Development

Florence City Council listened to a first reading on the approval of a change in the approved concept development plan for a 33.81 acre site on the west side of Hopeful Church Road, paving the way for a 176 unit ranch-style rental complex.

The property is located between the properties at 7275 and 7393 Hopeful Church Road, across from the Hopeful Church/Surfwood Drive intersection, and the request is by Abercrombie and Associates/Hopeful Road Holdings, LLC. The target market for these rental units are 80 percent 50 to 80-year olds, and 20 percent young professionals. The units are all between 1300 and 1400 square feet, and have zero grade entry, or no steps.

Most of the units are two bedrooms with a few having three bedrooms.

"This is a nice project," said Councilwoman Dr. Julie Metzger-Aubuchon. "Boone County Planning Commission approved the project, and Florence Planning saw no need for a public hearing and we gave council approval. The previous project approved for this area had double the density, and this is a nice revision with more luxury."

At the caucus meeting discussion last week, there was some concern that the project should have a right hand deceleration lane into the complex which the proposed project does not include. After the discussion, however, the developer agreed to donate the right-of-way according to Development Director Joshua Wice. But some of the council members were not convinced that a lane was not indicated.

"This is a better project, and we are excited about it overall," said Councilman Mel Carroll. "But this is a high density public road and I think (the deceleration lane) is a safety aspect for your tenants and the general public."

Councilman J. Kelly Huff agreed. "I agree with Mr. Carroll," he stated. "I think it is crazy that we are not insisting on (the inclusion) of a deceleration lane."

Mayor Diane Whalen stepped in.

"The (Kentucky Department of Transportation) did a traffic study and indicated that the lane was not warranted," she said.

Councilman David Osborne asked that if they waited, whose cost is it then? The mayor replied that it is a state road. Wice clarified that it is not a city project, and the developer is not obligated to put the lane in, so the implication is that the state would have to put it in. Osborne said that he drove on Hopeful Church and slowed down a little where the turn would be and stated that he thinks the lane is necessary, especially if Pleasant Valley ties into Hopeful Church in the future, which is a definite possibility.

A vote was held, though a second reading will be necessary, and all voted yes except for Carroll and Osborne.

A second ordinance was read for the first time which also approved a change in the approved concept development plan for a .76 acre site located at 7840 Mall Road. Currently there is a building on the site which used to be a Fifth Third Bank branch, in front of the Florence Mall. The building is scheduled for demolition and the new building will be 3400 square feet, with outdoor dining and a drive through. The proposed restaurant is called Slim Chickens, which has a menu similar to Chick-fil-A.

This ordinance also received a vote, and all council members were in support of it.

Both ordinances will receive a second reading at the regular council meeting on February 2.

A municipal order was passed approving the appointment of Lance Howard to fulfill the unexpired term of Jerome Wagoner to the City of Florence Code Enforcement Board. Wagoner resigned due to personal reasons. The term goes through June.

Mayor Whalen sent the city's sympathy to the Toadvine family on the death of George Toadvine, retired teacher and former principal of Boone County High School.

"If you knew him, you were a better person for it," she said.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Slim Chickens in Louisiana (via Facebook)
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