Planning Board to revisit drive-thru ban rules

Feb 13, 2018

The Planning Board will redraft a policy that, if approved by voters, would relax a ban on drive-thru restaurants after hearing concerns that a change might encourage unwanted development in West Wareham.

The policy was enacted seven years ago and prohibits drive-thrus for new restaurants. Drive-thrus for businesses such as banks and other non-food related businesses are allowed in the town’s general commercial district. That district stretches on both sides of Route 28 from the I-195 on-ramp

Under the Planning Board’s currently drafted rules, drive-thrus would only be allowed by a special permit in either the commercial zoning district or the Wareham Village, Onset Village, commercial strip, commercial general and commercial planned districts. Board members haven't yet decided which option, either the commercial zoning district or the five other districts, to include in the final version of the bylaw.

Drive-thrus would only be allowed under certain conditions. Some of those conditions include prohibiting drive-thru parking lots from opening directly onto a state highway. Other criteria would require that businesses put appropriate safety measures in place for pedestrians and cars.

The policy was originally put in place following pressure from residents who wanted to avoid overdevelopment in West Wareham. On Monday, residents restated their support for the ban.

“Tobey Road is a mess. It is horrible…the traffic is bad and people aren’t paying attention,” said Nancy McHale, a West Wareham resident. “We need to make it livable for folks.”

Planning Board member Emmanual Daskalakis said his board heard those concerns and would revisit the rules, which are scheduled for a vote at the Spring Town Meeting. That meeting is where residents will decide whether or not to adopt the new rules. It is scheduled for April 23 in the Wareham High School auditorium. All registered voters may participate.