DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council took up a proposal Sept. 11 to regulate new drive-thru construction and considered a developer’s pitch to allow open consumption of alcohol at Park Place shopping mall.
Dunwoody City Planner Madalyn Smith presented a draft ordinance aimed at making streets more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly by requiring a special land use permit to build or redevelop a business drive-thru.
“Typically, drive thrus are really not conducive to pedestrian friendly environments,” Smith said. Drivers, she said, are less likely to be alert in the queue, and there can be conflict between drivers and pedestrians, especially when people are driving across the curb cuts and pedestrians are on the sidewalk.
“Drive-thru lines also really interrupt traffic flow,” Smith said, raising concerns that idling cars affect air quality and that “the typical design of drive-thrus involves a lot of excessive asphalt and it’s not necessarily a sustainable mode of development.”
The proposal, which received endorsement from the Planning Commission in August, makes no changes to areas of the city where new drive-thru development is already prohibited, but requires business owners to apply for a separate permit for a drive-thru element to be built or added into their business.
Smith said the proposed regulation would allow the city to separate drive-thrus for special consideration as to how they may affect surrounding areas.
Under the proposal, a business with a drive-thru that has been closed for a number of years would have to re-apply for the special permit if it reopens and plans to use the service, Smith said.
City Councilwoman Catherine Lautenbacher expressed a citizen’s emailed concern over the regulatory burden this would pose. Smith estimated that the process for obtaining a special land use permit, which is in part a matter of state law, would be approximately six months and cost in the ballpark of $2,000.
The proposed ordinance will come before the City Council again on Oct. 16.
In another matter at the Sept. 11 meeting, real estate developer EDENS presented a request to expand the Perimeter Center Entertainment District to include the Park Place Shopping Center. The group’s vision is to have the courtyard area of the mall for daytime and nightlife events, such as fitness activities or concerts and allow people to walk around the property with an alcoholic beverage – purchased at a tenant business – in hand.
“The focal point is that courtyard area,” said Michael Sard, an attorney representing the group. “From time to time, there may be larger events we have on property and want people to enjoy drinks they purchased on the property.”
The City Council seemed generally receptive to the request, though Councilman Joe Seconder raised concerns about pedestrian connectivity between Park Place and the Perimeter Mall. The proposed redevelopment does not include plans to increase pedestrian connectivity across Ashford Dunwoody Road or Perimeter Center East or West roads.
“I’m a bit disappointed,” he said. “I’d like to be able to walk safely … into the center of your place. We’re starting from scratch […] so I’d like you to potentially reconsider,” he said.
The Entertainment District expansion request will return for consideration at the council’s Sept. 26 meeting.