The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission gave a nod Tuesday to preliminary plans for a new Panda Express restaurant to be located at 3405 W. FM 120. During its monthly meeting, the commission approved the site plan for the restaurant and drive-thru in a unanimous vote.


While the name of the restaurant was never mentioned during the meeting, artist renderings and plans for the restaurant prominently displayed the Asian fast food chain’s logo. The item was passed with little discussion by the commission and no speakers for or against the project.


“This is the request for a site plan for a restaurant with drive-thru in the highway-oriented overlay district,” Doss said.


The new restaurant will be built on the west side of U.S. Highway 75 along FM 120 near an existing shopping center. The future site is currently occupied by a brick office that was once used as a doctor’s office and will be demolished as part of the construction.


The submitted designs for the project primarily feature a mixture of masonry and glass. However, developers requested an exemption for 18 percent of the construction to be made using what Doss described as an “engineered wood product” along the upper level of the building.


“It is essentially a compacted fiber product somewhere between true wood and hardi (board),” Doss said, noting the city’s recommendation of approval for the project and variance.


The designs for the restaurant also feature six stacking spots in the restaurant’s drive-thru for traffic, which meets the city’s requirements, Doss said. The designs also feature cross access to developments to the east, but Doss said the current layout prevented similar access to the west.


Tom Rud, project director for id Group, represented Panda but made no comments during the meeting. With the initial site plan approved by the commission, Rud said the next step for the project will be to pull permits and other paperwork with the city, which he anticipated would take about 30 days. Following that, an expected four-month construction schedule would leave the restaurant ready to open some time in December, he said.


This new restaurant would be the second Panda Express in the Sherman-Denison area, with the other located in the Sherman Town Center. Despite the relative close locations of the two restaurants, and their proximity to the highway, Rud said he does not expect them to draw away from each other.


“I don’t think they will compete with each other,” he said. “They (Panda) are well aware of it and they are beyond the minimum distance the company requires.”