by Brett Freeman

HUNTERSVILLE – The Town Board conducted a public hearing Monday night on a petition to change the town’s zoning ordinance to allow drive-through restaurants in Town Center and Neighborhood Center zoning districts.

Resident Kevin King requested the change because he said it would allow for greater economic development potential and flexibility in those zoning districts.

The zoning amendment was opposed by the town planning board and planning staff for numerous reasons, including negative traffic and pedestrian impacts.  Allowing drive-thru restaurants in those districts would be inconsistent with the vision laid out in the town’s Community Plan and Downtown Master Plan.

King noted that drive-thru windows are already allowed for banks and pharmacies and asked that the allowance be extended to restaurants.

Huntersville Planning Director Jack Simoneau said drive-thru restaurants have a much higher volume of business, as well as rush hours every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Several residents spoke against the changes.

“We would have a high-traffic place that’s open late at night … in a residential neighborhood,” resident Sandy Mueller, said. “Do we really want to allow this?”

The lone show of support for the change came from Commissioner Charlie Jeter, who argued that it was unfair to allow drive-thru windows for some businesses, but not others.

“I do believe in plans,” Commissioner Ron Julian answered. “I believe that the small area plans … we have set up here in Huntersville have prevented a Catawba Avenue-like disaster.”

Commissioner Charles Guignard, who owns property in the town center district, recused himself from the discussion.

The board also appointed 14 members to the newly created Huntersville Education Collaborative, the creation of which was approved in July “for the purpose of developing collaboration among community entities to enhance educational opportunities for Huntersville public school students.”  The collaborative replaces the School Advisory Committee.

The new members are Dr. John Ballas, Terri Bennett, Philip Carey, Raquel Crespo, David Dworak, Brooke Faw, A.J. Foster, Amy Garrison, Steven Gilbert, Jerry Hunter, Carrie Kester, Andrea Peskin, Bob Rosso, Monique Spittel. Carrie Kester was appointed chairman of the group.