Sandpoint Council Considering Drive-Thru Ban

SANDPOINT, ID – City leaders in Sandpoint are actually considering a new ordinance that will make it more difficult to grab lunch, a cup of coffee or your prescription without leaving your car within city limits.

The Sandpoint City Council is considering a new ordinance the could ban new drive-thru businesses. The idea behind the proposal is to make Sandpoint a more pedestrian friendly town, though some businesses like the Dairy Depot, which relies on drive through traffic, think its a bad

As one employee rings up customers at the Dairy Depot counter another covered the constant flow of traffic at the drive-thru window on Monday.

Jay Vandenberg bought Dairy Depot six years ago for the convenience. He estimates drive-thru customers represent approximately 25-percent of his business, but soon that convenience may be harder to find in Sandpoint.

“The comprehensive plan envisions a Sandpoint of the future where pedestrians are the priority, where the prevalence of the automobile is decreased and multiple walkable streets are the norm,” Planning Director Jeremy Grimm said.

That vision that may not include any new drive-thru businesses. Grimm says the council first started looking at the issue when a Jack in the Box moved in.

“We’ve had some concern from the public about traffic volume as well as appropriateness of a fast food drive thru,” Grimm said.

The planning and zoning commission recommends the council consider each new drive-thru on an individual basis, not an overall ban.

“Drive-thrus certainly have a place in society, in our culture, so I guess the question before council is are drive-thrus all appropriate in all areas town and if so what areas are appropriate,” Grimm said.

In theory Grimm says that fewer drive-thrus will reduce cars on the road. On the other hand it may also lead to larger parking lots.

“Banning drive-thrus is not good for our business and growth,” Jay Vanderberg said.

If approved, the ordinance would not allow current drive- thrus to re-build if they were destroyed.

“If something was to happen to my building, if it was to burn down, lets hope it doesn’t, the fact can’t rebuild that drive thru into that store is definitely concerning to me,” Vanderberg added.

The city council will hold a public hearing on the drive-thru ban the third Wednesday in May.