The barn door is open Commercial bakery and banquet facility puts this local landmark back in business

By on January 23, 2014
This barn along East Newport Road,  near theTurkey Hill conveniencestore,  may soon house a commercial bakery,  deli and banquet facility.  Photo by Preston Whitcraft

This barn along East Newport Road, near theTurkey Hill conveniencestore, may soon house a commercial bakery, deli and banquet facility. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

A new bakery, deli and banquet facility is close to approval in Warwick Township. Traffic flow and parking issues still need to be worked out, but all could be finalized as soon as next month.

The property on the table is the historical barn along East Newport Road which became the architectual model for the northern gateway to Newport Square.

Not too long ago, plans plans were in motion for the barn to be turned into a restaurant, tavern and 31-room inn. That project never made it past the planning stage, and the brick monument to agricultural heritage seemed to drift into dormancy.

Now it looks like a desirable reuse is within reach. The new plan, which was discussed during a Jan. 15 public hearing held by the Warwick Township board of supervisors, will convert the lower floor of the barn into a commercial bakery with an attached retail store and deli. The second floor will be converted into a 300-seat banquet facility. A retaining wall extending from the barn will provide a buffer between Newport Road and a patio area.

Chris Venarchic of RGS Associates, a Lancaster engineering firm, is representing bakery co-owner and operator Brandon Ziegler of Country Home Catering, 112 Fairland Road, Lititz. Ziegler also owns Zig’s Bakery & Deli, 87 Green Acre Road in Lititz, in partnership with his parents, Dean and Carole.

The 7,300 square foot barn site is already zoned commercial and is served by local water and sewer services. Parking plans will utilize a combination of space on the same lot as the barn and other lots in the Newport Square development.

“We have come up with the required 123 (parking) spaces,” said Venarchic. “I feel we broke down parking coverage for both businesses to be in use with adequate parking.”

But at least one supervisor was unsure.

“With regard to the shared parking areas identified, let’s say there are people with cars already there since it is a shared area,” said supervisor Michael Vigunas. “If you had an event with 300 (additional) people, where will that parking go if there is not enough shared spaces?”

Venarchic and Ziegler seemed to adequately allay those concerns, explaining that in those instances when both businesses were in operation, capacity within the deli would be reduced. In addition, through event-specific signage, both traffic and parking would be directed as appropriate.

“Traffic would have to be properly signed,” Venarchic said. “It cannot be controlled 24/7, but thorugh proper signage we feel confident we can direct it as needed.”

“The planning commission also had a lot of concerns about parking, particularly during a 300-person wedding,” noted township manager Dan Zimmerman. “There are not many (events of this size). However, the need for off-sight parking for staff and a back-up plan was discussed.”

The owners are also working with a nearby church that may allow use of its parking lot for staff and overflow in the rare occasion of a capacity-sized event.

The main concern raised by supervisors, however, had to do with traffic flow, especially when it was revealed the commercial bakery would need to be serviced daily by a tractor trailor truck.

“Has (traffic flow) been talked about with the Newport Square Homeowners Association with regard to signage,” questioned board chairman Logan Myers.

A combination of both permanent and event-specific signs will be used to address the concern. Banquet planners will also press patrons to include maps and travel instructions in event invitations to further improve the situation.

Current plans call for a “right turn in, right turn out” type of access to the site. Supervisors questioned whether moving that access point further away from the existing traffic signal on Newport Road might better serve the site while creating smoother flow for delivery trucks.

“Our full size cargo van is used for our deliveries, in addition to a full size cube van,” Ziegler said. “There will be tractor trailers for delivery, but coming between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., and at a rate of one per day.”

Supervisors ultimately voted to suspend the hearing until their second meeting next month, Feb. 19, allowing Venarchic and Ziegler to further explore possible solutions to the traffic flow concern. Once the hearing is concluded, supervisors will have up to 30 days to act on this site plan, and they could vote on the matter as soon as that night.

Despite the one month delay, supervisors assured the developer they were not opposed to the plan.

“We want to help make this work, said supervisor Herb Flosdorf. “This delay would give you time to address all the traffic concerns so we can act on the application at that time.”

“We are not trying to add unnecessary cost or burden,” Myers added, “but please understand that our charge up here is to make sure we are acting in the best interest of everyone. We feel it is a good project; we just want to be sure we are making a sound approval.”

“This has a much greater impact on the community than the original use,” Flosdorf said. “The goal is not to maintain the original design, but to have the design best accommodate the use of the property.”

“I think this is an excellent adaptive reuse,” commented supervisor David Kramer, who also expressed concern about light pollution, noise levels and alcohol usage with the new plan.

Where the original plan would have required an alcohol license for use in the proposed tavern, this plan does not call for such licensing. Alcohol can be brought in by patrons for use at their specific events, but it would not be sold or brought in by the business owners.

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