Monday, June 20, 2011

Proposed Drive-Throughs Downtown Discussed Tuesday

As we seek a more walkable and less auto-dependent downtown, what role should drive-throughs play, especially in the core historic district?

If you'd like to learn more, the downtown neighborhood association meets tomorrow night, June 21st, at 6pm, and they will hear a presentation on the proposed code change to permit the drive-throughs.

This is part of a two-phase process.

First there is the general and somewhat vague question, should drive-throughs even be a possibility? That is what is being discussed Tuesday, and through this first phase, not a specific location for a drive-through.

At the same time, this question wouldn't have arisen if a bank weren't interested in the corner of State and Commercial. So even though the change that's on the table is an ordinance change and not a specific building plan or permit, a specific project is in fact driving the request.

In a second phase, a building conditional use permit process, the specific plans would be evaluated. A specific set of plans could be denied even if the ordinance to permit drive-throughs in general is approved.

On the map you can see historic buildings in solid pink. The dotted pink buildings are semi-historical, either newish or significantly modified. Others are non-historical. While Scott's Cycle is an historic business, because the building was rebuilt recently, it is not in an historic building - if that distinction makes sense.

The proposed bank would be on the gravel lot where the McMahon's furniture store burned down. The Les Newman's lot is not involved.

Why might this matter? Well, Scott's Cycle is adjacent to the lot and riders on Tuesday and Thursday night as well as bicycling customers would be impacted.

Auto traffic will likely increase, with more on the relatively calm portion of State Street, and the driveway dumping cars in front of the bike store.

The proposal at first seemed like a classic "bad idea," but there might not be anything to be done, as at least some of the impacts would be independent of the drive-through. City planners
spoke with the Public Works department and with or without a drive-through the site will be allowed to have a parking lot if they choose. The parking lot and/or drive-through will require cars to enter from the existing alley off State Street and the site will have a one lane exit only driveway on Commercial Street. [We] understand the concern over pedestrian and bicycle activity in the area but even without a drive-through the site can have 1 new driveway on Commercial street.
If you walk or bike downtown, consider attending the meeting to learn more.

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