I would like to clarify my position on the proposed Chipotle Grill at the corner of Ridge Road and Chocolate Ave in Hershey since there are differing opinions as to why I am opposed to it.
First, to those who say I do not want the competition, please let me remind you that I bought Fenicci’s before Houlihan's, Devon’s, or the Chocolate Avenue Grill were there. I never voiced my opposition to these restaurants; since they met the township’s zoning criteria. To think that I am opposed to this 50 seat fast food restaurant because of competition is ridiculous.
I am opposed to the Chipotle for many reasons. The first is location. Putting a Fast Food Restaurant on this corner that already has traffic problems, will be a nightmare. The alley is a primary access for businesses and homeowners on Chocolate and Ridge, (myself included) and the proposed entrance and exit on Ridge is just too close to the intersection to allow any stacking of cars. Furthermore, this is not a onetime use or exemption, by the developer’s own words the building is being put on the most Eastern side of the lot so that another similar restaurant could be put right next to it.
And let’s talk about diminishing property values. Do you think the owner of Maria’s Flowers ever thought that not only the restaurant, but two houses next to her would be torn down and that her new neighbor would be a Fast Food Restaurant? I most certainly did not when I invested in a Hershey Business and my home on the 100 block of Caracas. It might be easy for the multi-billion dollar Hershey Trust and the publically traded Chipotle to absorb Real Estate fluctuations but not individuals who have their life savings in their homes and businesses.
But perhaps the biggest reason for my opposition is that Chocolate Ave is zoned no Fast Food for a reason (remember the Hardees) and that reason is that our town did not want Chocolate Avenue to become the next Hesheypark Drive. To have this zoning exemption would require the Trust to show Hardship and since they knew what the land was zoned for when they bought it no hardship can be shown Rather than tearing down history like Lucy’s, DeMarco’s, Sorrento’s, the Cocoa Inn and all of the historic homes maybe the Trust should be trying to preserve Mr. Hershey’s legacy by rebuilding a town with integrity. We all should focus our efforts on reestablishing a Historic mixed use Downtown. To imply that it is Un-American to keep a certain business out is just nonsensical, that is why we have zoning to begin with or we would have disreputable establishments popping up all over. AND. Whether it is a chain of mom and pop the ordinance says NO FAST FOOD.
But let’s keep this progress in focus. There is now talk to change our Zoning Laws and allow Fast Food Casual downtown in general which would open up the floodgates for cookie cutter development. The only way to protect the future is through timely knowledge and involvement no matter which side of the fence you are on. . Too often our citizens are aware of changes after they take place. It is important to let our elected officials know that we do not want Chocolate Avenue to become another Hesheypark Drive The best thing that any of us can do is show up for meetings, write letters and become involved with the development because you can make a difference and remember that no single entity controls Hershey. . .
Please attend the next Zoning Meeting on Wed Feb 20 at 6pm in the Township Building.
Phil Guarno, Present custodian of a Hershey Tradition since 1935
Fenicci’s of Hershey, Hershey’s Last Historic Independent Restaurant.