Town Debates Allowing Food Drive-Thrus in Wading River

Drive-thrus may soon be allowed in Wading River
Drive-thrus may soon be allowed in Wading River
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Town of Riverhead officials are considering a proposed change to the town code that, if passed, would allow drive-thrus for restaurants, coffee shops and cafes in parts of Wading River.

Drive-thrus are currently permitted only for banks and pharmacies, but the potential code revision to the Business CR Zoning District would amend that code to include eateries. The debate was sparked by the closure of the McDonald’s in Wading River. When it was built years earlier, there were complaints from community members who did not want a drive-thru in the area.

“They didn’t like what drive-thrus represented, so there was a strong push and McDonald’s decided to build a unit without a drive-thru,” said Councilman Timothy Hubbard during the Town Board work session on Thursday, May 12.

But since that McDonald’s location closed in September 2020, the building has remained vacant.

“Many people are tired of the eyesore there,” Councilman Kenneth Rothwell said.

Some in Wading River have grown willing to have a drive-thru in the community, Hubbard said. Rothwell also mentioned the accessibility issue many people face without a drive-thru.

“In the pouring rain and times of COVID, to make a handicapped person get out of the car to go inside to purchase food is a valid complaint and concern,” he said.

While the town board discussion mostly surrounded the McDonald’s, a change in the Business CR Zoning District code would allow access for any restaurant to construct a drive-thru. The issue will be the subject of a public hearing at a future board meeting, though it is unclear how soon the change may come up for a vote.

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