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P&Z To Reconsider Drive-Throughs For Eateries



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Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are scheduled to consider a P&Z zoning rules proposal at an upcoming public hearing that would allow drive-window service at eateries in certain commercial areas. The session is slated for 7:30 pm on Thursday, August 2, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

Although the P&Z has long allowed banks, and more recently allowed pharmacies, to have drive-through window service, allowing eateries to have such facilities has long been a sensitive topic among local land use officials, who have cited the issues of possible traffic congestion and littering as detriments of such drive-through service.

It was not until development firm Church Hill Sunrise LLC gained P&Z approval for its Exit 10 Commercial Design District (X10-CDD) at and near 75 Church Hill Road in October 2016 that the P&Z approved drive-through window service for an eatery in the form of a planned coffee shop there. The 12,000-square-foot retail center, which will include tenant Starbucks Coffee with window service, is now under construction.

Until now, the only other eatery in town allowed to have drive-through window service is Botsford Drive-In at 282 South Main Street. Drive-through service is allowed there because the eatery was in business before town zoning took effect in 1958.

The zoning rules proposal slated for a public hearing on August 2 would allow drive-through window service at eateries at "shopping centers." As defined by existing zoning regulations, shopping centers must be at least ten acres in area and be located in a B-2 (General Business) zone. Only three locations in town are considered to be "shopping centers" - Sand Hill Plaza at 228 South Main Street, Plaza South at 266-276 South Main Street, and Waterfall Plaza at 255 South Main Street.

In the zoning rule changes, the P&Z proposes adding wording to the existing shopping center regulations that cover drive-through window service. The proposed rules would include and also expand on the regulations covering drive-through window service allowed in the X10-CDD zone.

According to the proposed rules a bypass lane adjacent to the drive-through lane would be required to prevent traffic congestion on the site and on adjacent streets; drive-through lanes must be 11 feet wide; the access driveways to sites with drive-through windows must be controlled by a traffic signal; and drive-through windows must be located only at the sides or rear of buildings, among many other proposed requirements.

In February, the P&Z formed a committee to study the concept of allowing drive-through window service at more locations locally.

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