The motto of Chipotle Mexican Grill is "food served fast doesn't have to be a fast food experience," but some Hershey residents say the chain restaurant exemplifies "fast food" and they don't want to see it in their downtown.
"That's why we come here," visitor Robin Whaley said. "We come to this area because of this feel. So why change that to more of a fast food type, broader corporation-type feel?"
The Hershey Trust is trying to sell a parcel of land along the 200-block of West Chocolate Avenue to a York-area developer. The company, Apple Retail, recently submitted a request to the Derry Township Zoning Board for a variance, since fast food restaurants are not allowed in Hershey's historic "village core district."
Several businesses are now speaking out against the request. Jessica Demopoulos owns the Chocolate Avenue Grille one block up the street, and said she's afraid allowing one fast food chain to this area would create a "chain" reaction.
"If they give a variance for one fast food restaurant, they'll have to give them for others and that's not the trend we want to set for downtown Hershey," Demopoulos said.
She also said downtown streets and sidewalks aren't ready to accommodate the high traffic Chipotle would bring.
But there are those who say a little spice in the land of chocolate, would actually be pretty sweet.
"I don't think it'd ruin the feel," Derry Township resident Jeff Vaughn said. "I think it'd be a good idea to get some chain restaurants here and some commercialization in the area."
A spokesperson for the Hershey Trust told abc27 because they are entering into a contract with Apple Retail, they have no comment on the plans the developer has for the property.
The public will get to weigh in at a hearing before the Derry Township Zoning Board on January 16th. There are also several online petitions and Facebook groups both opposing and supporting a Hershey Chipotle.
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