Columbia may still be getting a new Zaxby’s, but it won’t be at the former Harper’s restaurant located at 700 Harden St.
Franchisee Britt Poston of Florence said Monday that debate about a potential drive-thru for the Five Points location, including a recent lawsuit related to the issue, led him to shift gears and focus on other, yet-to-be-named locations in the city.
“After we applied for the drive-thru variance, people started to get vocal,” Poston said.
In December, the Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-2 in favor of a special exception allowing a drive-thru for the proposed restaurant at the intersection of Devine, Harden and Santee streets.
Poston, of Back Forty Holdings, said at that hearing that he and his brother own nine Zaxby’s franchises in the Midlands.
Around 20 people spoke at the hearing, with most of them expressing opposition to the drive-thru.
Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian, a resident of Five Points neighborhood Wales Gardens, argued that a Zaxby’s drive-thru would not be in line with Five Points’ desired image as a family-friendly shopping village.
“This is not a small thing,” Harpootlian said. “This is a big thing about where Five Points is going. This isn’t I-26 or I-20 or Beltline or Garners Ferry.”
In January, Richard Burts, a Five Points property owner and Five Points Association board member, filed an appeal against the zoning board decision in circuit court and was granted an injunction hearing Feb. 1. Harpootlian is Burts’ attorney for the case.
Harpootlian said Monday that Burts was prepared to litigate but glad that won’t be necessary. He also said Burts would work with the building’s owner, John Scarborough, to help find a tenant whose business is consistent with what is allowed under current zoning.
Scarborough has owned the property since 1972.
Poston said he was disappointed but holds no ill will toward Five Points.
“I don’t know if it’s a lot or a little, but there are people who want us to be there,” he said. “I hope they get the business they seek.”