Is a drive-thru appropriate on a traditional main street? In some places yes, but the drive-thru proposed for Stittsville Main Street falls far short of what city planners say should be allowed.
A fast food drive-thru is proposed for Stittsville Main in front of Brown’s Independent. It will be the first real test of the new Stittsville Main Community Design Plan (CDP). Approved in 2015, the CDP (and its cousin, the Stittsville Main Street Secondary Plan) is supposed to provide a framework for development over the next few decades on our traditional main street.
Here’s why the proposal doesn’t fit the plan:
- A DRIVE-THRU IS ALLOWED, BUT…: The CDP breaks up Stittsville Main Street into four precincts, with different types of buildings and businesses allowed in each one. Drive-thrus aren’t allowed along Stittsville Main except for the Crossing Bridge Precinct, where this one would be located. (There are already several nearby: McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Scotiabank and TD.) A minor quibble here: Drive-thrus need to be set back at least 10 metres from Stittsville Main Street, but this proposal has setbacks of only 3 metres.
- STREETSIDE ACCESS: “All new buildings located directly adjacent to Stittsville Main Street shall orient the main entrance to face Stittsville Main Street,” according to the plan. The restaurant as proposed has its back to the street, with the main entrance facing towards the Brown’s parking lot. That needs to change.
- FACADE: The CDP says at least 50% of the façade must be made up of windows and entrances, and at least 80% of the windows and doors must consist of transparent glazing. The building design as shown in the planning application doesn’t meet that minimum.
- DESIGN & MATERIALS: “Building materials should include the following: brick, metal, glass, wood, stone and other natural materials.” Again, the building shown in the planning application does not appear to match the design requirements. And what’s with the flat roof? At least Tim Hortons and McDonald’s made an effort to build more than a dull box.
- MAJOR INTERSECTION: The plan calls for taller buildings of at least two stories at key intersections, including Stittsville Main at Carp. It’s not clear if its location counts as a “corner intersection”, since technically Carp Road is on the west side of the street, and the CDP refers to corner buildings as being less than 10 metres from the corner sidewalk. The current proposal has a park on the corner.
- SIGNAGE: The CDP says: “signage shall also be located and designed to enhance the architectural theme, scale, and proportions and minimize stand alone signs.” The concept drawing in the proposal doesn’t fit.
- HEIGHT: The building proposed is only 5.5 metres, but the zoning for that section of Stittsville Main calls for a minimum height of 6.7 metres. Consistent height is an important factor to keep a consistent look along the street.
I’m not against a drive-thru, but I do believe that City staff needs to push the proponent to alter the plan to becompatible with the “traditional main street” design that the CDP calls for. The current design might be ok for Hazeldean Road, but not for Stittsville Main.
It’s really important to get this one right, because it’s the first significant proposal since the CDP was approved, and also because it’s at a highly visible location for anyone entering the community from Hazeldean or Carp Road. It will be interesting to see how committed councillors are to upholding what’s in the plan.
You can read more about the plan here. The city is accepting comments from the public until February 24.
(A big thank you to David Jenkins for his help and suggestions for this column.)