It’s back to the drawing board for the Mobile City Council when it comes to regulating two-lane drive thru signs.
The council’s public service committee meeting on Dec. 30 did little to change the ordinance about drive thru signs, which originally came before the council on Dec. 17.
The proposed ordinance would allow for menu boards to be increased, but the city would regulate the signs’ sound levels. They are particularly concerned about multiple-lane fast food menu drive-thrus, already seen at some area McDonald’s.
Although the public service committee, which is comprised of chair Fred Richardson, CJ Small and Joel Daves, appeared to be on board, the ordinance hit one snag — the historic districts.
The language allowing the menu boards maximum square footage to 45-square-feet from 25-square-feet left open the possibility for historic districts to be subjected to the same regulations.
However, this means the process of passing the ordinance must start over again.
“The easiest option is to table the current ordinance indefinitely and start with a new one that includes the amendment excluding the historic districts,” said council attorney Jim Rossler. “That would mean this ordinance would only apply to commercial and industrial zones.”
The change would mean the process would delay the vote by a month. That’s because the city would have to advertise a public hearing for at least a week, hold the public hearing the following week and then vote after that.
Director of Urban Development Laura Clarke did say there were no pending permits or requests from fast food restaurants looking for additional lanes. However, she said, it is just a matter of time.
“The two-lane menu is getting to be the standard,” she said. “There is nothing right now prohibiting the number of lanes. If someone wanted to come in and build a super site with three or more lanes, then there is nothing to stop or monitor that.”
Existing signs are however expected to be grandfathered in.
The council is not expected to begin advertising for the public hearing until mid-January.