Banning drive-thrus in Madison worthwhile

By: Emily Houtler /The Daily Cardinal  – September 16, 2008

Recent proposal to ban drive-thrus in Madison deserves greater consideration

I wonder why much of the world considers Americans lazy. Maybe it is because dead batteries in a remote control have reduced some to tears. Perhaps it is the fact that nearly a quarter of American adults are completely physically inactive by choice. Or maybe it is because they simply do not have the decency to get out of their car to order and pick up their venti iced vanilla latte.

If it were up to a Madison planning committee, no one would need to worry about that last one. If some in the committee could have their way, Madison would be a drive-thru free city, and life would subsequently be better for both the environment and residents of Madison.

Late this past June, Eric Sundquist, a member of Madison’s Plan Commission, proposed the idea that the city of Madison should consider banning restaurant drive-thrus. Several Canadian cities have implemented similar measures because of their environmental impact, and recently San Luis Obispo, Calif., followed suit.

Such a proposal is a smart plan for numerous reasons. First, there is the environmental aspect. Vehicles, whether idling in a fast food drive-thru lane or rushing down the Beltline, release harmful gases and exhaust. However, when a car is moving, these gases at least achieve the objective of moving a vehicle toward a destination. Automobiles that sit idle in drive-thrus, sometimes for more than 20 minutes, are simply polluting. There is no other excuse. Imagine if the pollution created from the hours spent in drive-thrus every day was eliminated. It certainly would likely improve the quality of the city air at least a modest amount. Additionally, with the rash of hurricanes hitting the southern United States recently and through the rest of the season, oil refineries all along the coast have been forced to shut down. With a minor gas shortage, it is far more important for our domestic fuel to be put to better use than waiting in line for hamburgers.

Exiling drive-thrus would also save many people large amounts of frustration. Having been on both sides of a drive-thru speaker, I know how aggravating the system can be. No speaker, electronic or human, is flawless. It always seems that more mistakes are made on drive-thru orders than on counter orders due to many reasons, including the inability of many Americans to articulate properly further distorted by a faulty microphone system. It is also more difficult to rectify errors made while in the drive-thru lane owing to the volume of idling cars and the nearly impossible speed expected of employees of said establishment.

Further, in today’s volatile market, some might worry that taking away drive-thrus would be bad for business. Although it is true that drive-thrus usually do have a steady supply of customers, these people would likely still frequent these establishments, especially if everyone in the city closed their drive-thrus. With gas prices as they are, no sane person would drive outside of Madison just to use a drive-thru to get their meal. The manner of service, not the product or employees, would be changed by the exclusion of drive-thrus.

Several questions still surround the issue, such as grandfathering current drive-thrus and accommodating drive-thru pharmacies. Nonetheless, this subject deserves serious consideration, and the issue was swept aside by the committee far too quickly. In a city known for its progressive measures for both humanity and the environment, this is a ban that should be passed in Madison. At the very least, Madison would be wise to implement a restriction on the number of drive-thrus allotted in a city that lacks the infrastructure to support a large number of automobiles.

Republican US Representative recommends eliminating drive thru windows

Barack Hussien Obama gets ridiculed for reminding people to keep tires properly inflated then a Republican US Representative not only checking tire inflation, but also this gem—eliminating drive thru windows.…-conserve-gas/

Ordinance banning drive-throughs carried to Sept. 22 council meeting

by Stacey McEvoy/Independent Press

Tuesday September 16, 2008, 6:39 PM

MADISON — The Borough Council will carry an ordinance to the Sept. 22 council meeting that would amend a land development ordinance of the borough’s code, which would prohibit drive-throughs in two business districts, the CBD-1 and CBD-2 zones.
Among other properties, the ordinance would affect the property on the corner of Main Street and Greenwood Avenue, where the former Exxon-Mobil gas station was located three years ago and now stands vacant.
Rocco Iossa, the contract purchaser of the property, said that he has been working on the site for the past two-and-a-half years to make it an asset to the town, adding that he cared deeply about happens in the town.

Mr. Iossa and Exxon-Mobil’s attorney Peter Wolfson of Porzio, Bromberg and Newman of Morristown, attended the council meeting to implore the governing body “to defer the ordinance to allow Exxon (the property owner) to understand what is being proposed,” said Mr. Wolfson.
Mr. Iossa said that he had presented his plans for the property to the town on Aug. 11 and that now “the town is changing the rules…changing rules when an applicant has invested large sums and time…it’s grossly unfair.” He said that he understood the town wanting to promote pedestrian traffic, but asserted that putting in a drive-through at the site would have “no impact to pedestrian traffic.”
Mayor Mary-Ann Holden said that the ordinance was not targeted to any property, pointing out that the drive through issue goes back three years with Provident Bank. “Bank drive throughs are prohibited,” she said.
“The coincidence and timing is mind-boggling,” said Mr. Iossa, noting that he had a full application before the Planning Board submitted on Aug. 11 and that his Sept. 2 hearing was coincidentally cancelled and re-scheduled for Sept. 16.
Mayor Holden said that nothing precludes an applicant from seeking a variance to show hardship.
Borough Attorney Joseph Mezzacca noted that an ordinance examines a whole zone; not individual properties.
“We’ve finally gotten Exxon’s attention to have a conversation,” said Councilman John Elias, adding that everyone is concerned with the block in question. He suggested that the ordinance be brought to the next council meeting so that the council could work with the principals of the property and look at the area on a global basis to include the surrounding areas. “I think we would all be better served–to see if there is any benefit to be gained.”
Councilman Robert Conley agreed with Councilman Elias’s suggestion so that people could understand the implications of the ordinance. He also asked the borough attorney if the property could become a gas station again to which Mr. Mezzacca said, “Not likely.”
Councilwoman Jeanne Tsukamoto said she was concerned with the “changing of the rules” that Mr. Iossa spoke about.
Mr. Mezzacca said, “Any time an ordinance changes, it does change the rules. It is legal. Applications can be in different stages. It’s the way it is.”
“Why now since this has been going on for three years? What’s another two weeks?” said Councilman Vincent Esposito. “A drive through might not be bad to help build up our town.”
“This has dragged on for years and years,” said Mayor Holden. “We’re just trying to get it cleaned up.”
Councilman Elias put a motion to carry the ordinance for two weeks, Councilwoman Carmela Vitale seconded it and the council voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mayor Holden looked to Mr. Wolfson and requested that the discussions move forward very soon — “like tomorrow,” she said.


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