The land development plan for a new Panera Bread in the Northampton Crossings shopping center was approved Monday night by the Lower Nazareth Planning Commission.
Next stop: a meeting with the Board of Supervisors for final approval before construction can begin.
Gregory Elko, a principal with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, showed the commission a revised plan, which showed changes that the township's Zoning Hearing Board recommended in September.
Among the conditions for approval were:
- An all-season screen -- such as tall evergreen bushes -- would be installed so drivers exiting Route 33 cannot see the drive-thru signs.
- Widened the entrance to the parking lot by 45 feet on both sides.
- Widened the drive-thru lanes from 10 feet to 12 feet. The new traffic pattern plan will send vehicles counterclockwise behind the building to access the drive-thru.
- The parking spot closest to the drive-thru exit would be eliminated to reduce any safety hazards.
Commissioners reviewed the zoners' report and listened to the thoughts and recommendations of township engineer Albert Kortze and Lori Seese, the township's planning and zoning administrator. Seese said she believed all of the conditions were being met.
Panera representatives said they would like construction and renovations to begin in November and the restaurant to be open by February 2012.
The location is currently being occupied by Halloween Adventure, but the seasonal store is expected to close shortly after Halloween on Oct. 31.
In testimony to the zoners last month, Caryl Scobbie, senior development project manager for Panera, said construction will take about 77 days and that the hiring and training process will take about a month.
About 24 employees are expected to be hired, according to Scobbie. Those employees will work one of two shifts and there will be 10 to 12 employees per shift.
Panera Bread restaurants are open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Supervisors meet at the Lower Nazareth Township Municipal Building, 306 Butztown Road.