Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board voted unanimously Wednesday, March 7 to recommend approval of an ordinance that would allow for split drive-through queue lines at fast-food restaurants.
Planning & Zoning Manager David Flinchum told board members that currently only one drive-through lane is allowed for fast-food restaurants, while financial institutions are allowed multiple lanes.
“Drive-through facilities have evolved over the years,” he said. “It used to be a linear arrangement where you came in, saw your menu, placed your order, paid a cashier and then picked up your food. That has changed.”
The change was requested by McDonald’s, which has revamped its style of drive-through to allow multiple menu boards to place orders. “There is an advantage,” Flinchum said. “If someone is delayed, you have the option to bypass and go to a second menu board to place your order.”
Flinchum said that one concern village staff had was that fast-food restaurants have peak periods, which can cause traffic backups. He noted that the McDonald’s location on Greenview Shores Blvd. has a traffic issue.
“We’re going to look at these on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
The change would allow for a single approach lane that splits into two menu boards, then merges back into one lane, Flinchum said.
PZA Board Chair Carmine Priore III asked if all fast-food vendors would have the right to build these types of drive-through lanes.
“Would it still have to come before staff for approval?” he asked. “Would each entity coming in have to propose this and get approval for it?”
Flinchum said that an applicant would have to meet several requirements to be granted the drive-through. “It would be on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Brian Terry of Land Design South, agent for McDonald’s, said that the company has been updating all of its older locations to match its newer locations. “Part of the project is including what they call a side-by-side drive-through,” he said. “Every site we work with is different. The orientation and the traffic flow are all site-specific.”
Terry said that a side-by-side drive-through boosts efficiency in traffic by 20 percent.
“There’s not more cars coming to McDonald’s,” he said. “The cars are already there. But this allows them to go through faster.”
Terry said that the biggest drive-through delay is from people pondering what they’d like to order.
“It’s when you pull up and can’t decide what you want,” he said. “It’s not because the restaurant can’t get the food to you fast enough. So this allows drivers to bypass someone who is holding up the line.”
Flinchum noted that the design would still allow for a one-way flow that would help stem traffic problems. He said that the applicant would be required to meet minimum landscaping and curb requirements, as well as allow for a bypass lane.
Additionally, all establishments must meet the many requirements already in the code for drive-through restaurants.
PZA Board Alternate Al Bennett said he was in favor of allowing McDonald’s to update their locations. “I prefer it to them building somewhere else,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to recommend approval of the ordinance.