Additional requirements for the drive-thrus were approved by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission at regular meetings Thursday after months of work sessions.
The changes were made as an amendment to the city’s Integrated Development Code, which was first created in 2017 to set zoning and development standards, and is now being reviewed to ensure it functions as intended.
The rules apply to newly created drive-thruses, and senior planner Clint Smith said existing drive-thruses are expected to remain unchanged to comply with the new code.
New rules were added requiring drive-thru lanes not to interfere with parking areas or internal circulation.
Other rules prohibit service windows facing public roads, but exceptions will be made if businesses add protective walls or adequate vegetation or if the building is below ground level and is not visible from adjacent roads, according to city documents.
The drive-thrus will also be subject to a transportation impact analysis if the business is a restaurant, close to an intersection or in a shopping center that includes an internal driving alley. Provisions are in place to trigger analysis if 100 or more cars travel to the drive-thru during rush hour, according to city documents.
A transportation impact analysis was conducted to ensure the expected amount of traffic in the area is safe taking into account factors such as road capacity, effects on traffic circulation and pedestrian safety, according to city documents.
Rules are in place to comply with noise regulations and install filtering if the drive-thru is within 100 feet of a residential zone to block menu screens, idle cars, and speakers. However, these provisions are rearranged and arranged for clarity.
Additional rules apply if the drive-thru has a conditional use permit, which is required for certain zoning such as multi-purpose neighborhoods, multi-purpose downtown, and multi-purpose office districts, Smith said.
For that permit, the drive-thrus must also be 50 feet from a residential district and not have a service window facing it. Crossings will be required for easy pedestrian access and the location and size of the structure must match the surrounding properties, according to city documents.
A transport impact analysis will also be required if 50 or more cars pass during rush hour.
Two professional engineers provided public comments at the meeting to express concern that the process should be more of a case-by-case decision.
Ben Ross, vice president at Engineering Surveys & Services, said that a porte-cochere, or necessary barrier wall, is unnecessary in most cases because it filters busy multi-lane highways, not neighborhoods. Ross also said he was concerned the inspection would prevent police from seeing the area easily and could pose a security threat.
Tom Trabue, chief engineer at Trabue Engineering, said the requirements shouldn’t be too absolute and that screening and regressing were too onerous.
“I expect when I drive through a drive-thru restaurant to see a service window, I expect to see a car that broke down,” Trabue said.
On another issue, the commission also approved a code amendment that would allow the 10-foot amenity requirement for buildings to be dropped for downtown structures.
According to city documents, the 10-foot amenity requirement applies to property lanes that border a public road and allow space for utilities without a permanent building on it. However, utilities are usually built on public roads in the city center and buildings must meet the road line.
The last amendment made some technical changes to the code.
After some discussion, the commission decided that after months of session work, they were happy with the amendments and unanimously agreed to all changes, with one commissioner, Tootie Burns, absent. The amendments are now submitted to the City Council for final approval.
Source : www.columbiamissourian.com