Despite a plea and an earlier outright rejection by the township’s planning commission, the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors voted tonight to break its own rules. The supers decided to allow an amendment to the current Ridge Pike Business District (Chapter 143) with an ordinance text amendment that would allow a drive-thru service for a fast food or drive-in restaurant by conditional use.
The particular case at hand, requesting the change in allowance, is a new Dunkin Donuts location at Ridge Pike and Trooper Road on the Lower Providence Township side of the intersection. The current owner of both the West Norriton (Ridge Pike) and Trooper/Egypt location would own this spot, as well.
The owner told LP TAP that, as this was strictly in a development stage, he was not yet sure if either of the other locations would close, should this new spot be built. The main point of contention about the allowance was that the developers had originally allotted only for a six-car “stack” at its drive-thru window. In other areas of the township along Ridge Pike that allow such drive-thru access, such as a bank, there is an eight-car stack requirement.
According to the township’s solicitor, John B. Rice, Esq., the idea that fit everyone’s needs came from Township Manager Richard Gestrich.
“This ordinance amendment with six, well we had some discussions today,” said Rice. “Mr. Gestrich and I looked at the existing Ridge Pike Zoning District, and for bank use, there is already a stacking provision consistent to what Casey [Moore, township traffic engineer] recommended here.”
The township did not want to allow just any person looking to develop along the Ridge corridor to be able to add a drive-thru. However, in order to encourage more business development, the supers hoped to find a solution that would still allow for such a development, should the township see it fit. The addition of a conditional use was all they needed to hear.
“We will just incorporate what we have here under the books already, under bank uses 143-259J, with standards of a minimum eight-car stack area will be provided, and that will include the space at the pick-up window,” said Rice. Additional requirements in the bank use section described that the drive-thru must also not interfere with internal circulation of traffic or parking, and that the pick-up window itself must be in the rear or side of the structure.
“In other words, this would not prohibit you from what you want to do,” he told the Dunkin Donuts developers.
The developers will have to return to the township for an official conditional use hearing, now that the amendment to the ordinance was permitted in a 5-0 unanimous vote. Additionally, a land development plan will come, according to the developers “soon there after.”