The owner of the old Chuck’s Drive-In building on Peace Portal Drive wants to open a restaurant on the property but first needs approval from Blaine planning commissioners.
Planning commissioners will hold a public hearing on the conditional use permit needed for a restaurant on Thursday, July 26, starting at 7 p.m. in the Blaine city council chambers. A permit is required because zoning does not currently allow restaurants in that location.
Blaine investor Paul Sall, who bought the building last year, said he purchased the property because it has been Blaine’s only drive-in restaurant. He said he wants to keep the building’s vintage look and is seeking a tenant interested in creating an eatery similar to Win’s Drive-In in Fairhaven.
“Talking to people, I’ve found they have good memories of Chuck’s,” Sall said. “There was good history behind it.”
Blaine real estate agent Sam Freeman helped Sall with buying the property. Sall will not run the restaurant himself, but Freeman said he already has interest from more than a dozen people who want to reopen a drive-in there.
Blaine planning staff is recommending that planning commissioners approve the conditional use permit with some specific requirements for Sall. These requirements include removing the roof-mounted sign, which is not allowed under Blaine municipal code, improving landscaping on the property and establishing parking spaces.
City officials changed the zoning for the area in 2006 to comply with state growth management regulations, Blaine city planner Alex Wenger said. The zoning does not allow restaurants, so when Chuck’s closed a few years later, a new owner’s ability to open a restaurant without planning commission approval went with it.
“If the restaurant had stayed open in some capacity, then they could have continued without a conditional use permit,” Wenger said.
Sall has already completed some minor repainting and interior work on the building. In a letter to the city, Sall said he would like to see a small coffee shop along with the drive-in, in addition to outdoor seating and a place for outdoor grilling in the summer.
“I hope to take this abandoned building, which was the site of Blaine’s first drive-in, and re-open this piece of history as a successful business,” Sall wrote.