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Thread: Allowed/prohibited drive-through uses

  1. #1
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Allowed/prohibited drive-through uses

    Just wondering how common it is to see zoning codes where drive-through restaurants (standard and fast food) are not allowed in particular zones but not make that same prohibition for other drive-through type uses? From the point of view of a non-planner, it seems odd to me that we don't allow food to be purchased via a drive-through but in the same zone we can have drive-through banks and pharmacies. Are there municipalities that make no distinction of the use and ban drive-throughs outright?

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'm guessing that the codes that prohibited drive-through restaurants, but not other uses, were written or revised during a time before drive-through pharmacies became common, when existing fast food restaurant buildings were being jerry-rigged to accommodate drive-through windows. Early implementations were pretty bad -- queued vehicles stacking into the street, shared drive-through stacking and parking aisles that hampered vehicle movement, intrusion of noise and exhaust fumes onto adjacent residential areas and so on -- so they were banned by some communities. Drive-through bank windows didn't face the same issue; they were designed from the start with drive-through facilities, and stacking wasn't an issue thanks to the multiple pneumatic tubes. There were also other dedicated drive-through uses before the trend became widespread in fast food restaurants; Fotomat and, of course, gas stations to name a couple.

    IMHO, drive-through pharmacies have a worse impact than drive-through fast-food restaurants. Fast food queues move fast, while those at pharmacies crawl due to the lack of dedicated drive-through staff, the additional time needed to pick up prescriptions, and pharmacist consultation.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I worked for a jurisdiction on the Left Coast that prohibited all drive-through uses. That action created several non-conforming uses.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    Drive-throughs

    Our community has long prohibited drive-through restaurants. Recently (in the last year), it made a move to prohibit all drive-through uses other than banks. I'm not the man in charge so this change was not at my instigation, but the argument was made that banks (at least in our community) are far more institutionalized as expecting drive-through services and have (as a previous poster noted) been designed with multiple lanes to limit queuing distances.

    I do agree that it is silly that retail drive through be permitted while drive-throughs for food not be. The general argument against them is idling/pollution, intensive land consumption, and barriers to pedestrian accessibility. Seems to me if that is your argument against one, it is the argument against the other.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Thanks all for the input thus far. The premise of drive-through pharmacies not being prevalent at the time the code was implemented seems to make sense in the context of the community here.

    I'll be curious to see if over the course of time a move will also be made here to expand prohibition of drive-throughs beyond restaurants. It's hard for my wife not to notice the drive-throughs of a Walgreen's and Bank "X" opening up nearby and comment why the coffee shops can't have the same. Luckily the liquor store with the drive-through in town has been operating as a non-conforming use for decades.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Luckily the liquor store with the drive-through in town has been operating as a non-conforming use for decades.
    I love drive-through liquor stores. There's one in Ann Arbor, Michigan that I used to frequent. This is a great community service, IMHO.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I'll always remember the first drive thru liquor store I ever encountered. Just outside the main gate of Ft. Campbell, KY circa 1973.

    I agree with the preceeding coments regarding drive thru retail as a class of use. The parsing of the differences betwena pharmacy, bank and fast food establishment are IMHO meaningless. I've seen longer queues at banks on a payday than anytime at the local walgreens. As my corp counsel is fond of saying - "a distinction without a difference"

    If you've got an area such as a CBD where you're trying for that pedestrian compatable environment and to preserve a continuous street wall a drive thru bank is just as bad as a drive thru nationa coffeeshop chain

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    To drive through or not to drive through

    I've included two parts from the City of Clearwater's Downtown Redevelopment Plan.

    This part is from the overarching set of Goals, Objectives and Policies from the plan:

    Policy 12: Drive-through facilities shall only be permitted as an accessory use and
    through a design that minimizes the views of the facility from rights-of-way and preserves the urban character of Downtown.

    This part is specific to a character district but this exact language is repeated for each of the six character districts:

    Prohibited Uses
    Detached dwellings, all types of vehicle sales and services, automobile service stations, fast food restaurants with drive-through service, industrial and problematic uses (examples include, but are not limited to, adult uses, day labor, pawn shops, check cashing and blood plasma centers and body piercing and tattoo parlors).

    Now, I was there when this was all written - I helped write it. I'm not sure why we targeted fast-food restaurants, frankly. I think the thinking was the uses like banks don't generate the amount of vehicular traffic that a drive-through fast food use does and the goal was to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly.

    Note that Policy 12 restricts the use of drive through components. Given the accompanying design guidelines a drive through use would be hard pressed to fit in and be approved.

    Rethinking it, though (and about six years after the fact) I think perhaps we should have just prohibited drive through components and been done with it.

    I'm not sure if this even answers a question but the original post did get me thinking anyway.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    We have a district that requires all regular business to take place inside a structure except businesses that have a full-time wait staff. Basically it allows for outdoor cafes but not drive-thrus.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Not the exact same but we have an overlay district that prohibits the menu board, speaker and/or lighting from being directed to residentially zoned property.

    This has made a couple chain restaurants change their design but they are able to manage.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Our main concern over drive thru facilities has been the obnoxious blaring un-understandable constant repetitive, "May I help you?" and other amplified comments.

    We prohibit such amplified drive thru facilities except through Conditional Use process.

    We try to make sure that the service window (speaker noise that is created - especially in the evening) is not adjacent to, facing, or unreasonably near Residential areas, which would be objectionable for someone in their own yard outside on the deck, balcony, or patio.

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