The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Drive-through windows, residential neighborhoods don't mix

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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Drive-through windows, such as the one developer David Fusco has proposed for the gas station he wants to build on the north end of Erie Boulevard, are an environmental nuisance.

They encourage consumers to sit in their cars, letting them idle while they’re waiting to be served rather than shutting them off and walking inside. Idling engines waste gas, make noise and spew noxious emissions into the air that not only smell bad in the immediate area they’re released but raise atmospheric levels of climate-changing carbon.

For these reasons alone, the Schenectady Board of Zoning Appeals would have cause to turn down Fusco’s request for a variance because his property abuts a residential neighborhood on Monroe and East Front streets. But there’s another good reason, which Monroe Street resident John Rotundo talked about in Tuesday’s Gazette story: noise from the speaker on the drive-through window’s intercom.

Rotundo and his neighbors shouldn’t have to listen to “want fries with that?” at all hours of the day or night — especially when the drive-through window’s speaker would be facing their properties, and the lane would be within four feet of their property lines (15 feet is required).

Fusco’s plan also calls for a single-story building, where current zoning requirements are for two stories. Granted, Erie Boulevard is dotted with numerous single-story buildings that went up before the current requirement — giving it a distinctly suburban look — but the change was made for good reason and the city should seek to enforce it.

The BZA should also kill the plan for a drive-through window or, at the very least, insist that it be re-oriented to the other side of the property, with the speaker facing away from the neighboring residents.

 
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