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Railyard won’t allow drive-thru businesses

ELKINS — The Randolph County Development Authority’s plan to change the Elkins Railyard Land Covenant has been overruled due to the objections of a property owner.

The proposed change, which was approved by the RCDA last month, would have allowed businesses with drive-thru services to buy property within the popular downtown location.”

“The drive-thru covenant is not moving forward because the Holiday Inn Express has refused to accept the covenant, so therefore the project dies,” RCDA Executive Director Robbie Morris said. “The Development Authority had approved the drive thru-covenant but in order to make it a reality, 100 percent of the property owners had to agree to it. All of them agreed except for the Holiday Inn Express — they refused to do it.”

The RCDA hoped that changing the covenant would attract several new businesses to the Railyard, especially with drive-thrus being more popular than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are many restaurants currently exclusively depending on drive-thru services during these difficult times, but many retail stores, supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and many other types of businesses are doing whatever it takes to minimize contact with customers.

“They (Holiday Inn Express) seem to have their own vision for the Railyard,” said Morris. “They want it their way or the highway, so they can prevent drive-thrus no matter if that’s the wave of the future or not. We will continue to work to develop the Railyard to where it’s beneficial to all citizens and we will just go from there.”

When the RCDA agreed to change the Covenant last month, Morris stated that any new business would have to follow the Railyard structure and landscaping guidelines. He also said there have been businesses in the past that were interested in coming to the Railyard, but decided against it after learning of the “no drive-thru” rule.

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The RCDA also agreed during the meeting to enter into an option agreement with Greenfield Cabinetry on the property next door to its location in the Elkins Industrial Park.

Greenfield has plans to expand its building within the next five years, and with this agreement they are guaranteed the sufficient location to do so. A four-acre tract between Greenfield’s current facility and River Bend Road will be used for any upcoming projects.

“Greenfield has followed through on all of their promises as far as expansion,” said Morris. “They have purchased a million dollars or more of new equipment and pre-COVID they had hired a second shift that had significantly increased their workforce.”

Morris said that once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, Greenfield had to curtail some of those plans. He said the company is optimistic for 2021, however.

“Orders for them are already picking up so they are hoping to get their employment numbers back up,” said Morris. “With the business that they are doing and had been doing they are bursting at the seams in their current facility. So adding on to the plant is something that is definitely needed as they continue to grow.”

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