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Hardees drive-thru violates city ordinance
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Hardee’s 5 a.m. breakfast may be in jeopardy. A city ordinance does not allow the restaurant to use its only operational drive thru order board before 6 a.m.
Hardee’s has two drive thru order boards, the first adjacent to its building and a second on a lot behind the building. While the first drive thru menu board is on commercial property, it is not operational. The menu order board that is currently used is on property that’s zoned residential.
Current city code prohibits the use of off-street parking lots zoned residential to be used by a commercial business until 6 a.m. Specifically, “there shall be no movement of vehicles on such lots between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and the Board of Zoning Appeals may impose greater limitations.”
Ron Spry, who represented Hardee’s owner Carl Karcher Enterprises, asked Monday that McMinnville Zoning Appeals consider a one-hour variance that would allow it to continue serving breakfast at 5 a.m.
“That’s what we are asking for,” said Spry. “We just want to be good neighbors.”
Spry says when the first order board stopped working and parts could not be found to fix it, the business began using the second board until they were told they could not by McMinnville Planning and Zoning supervisor Josh Baker.
Spry’s description of Hardee’s as a good neighbor did not sit well with a neighbor.
“Good neighbor is not how I would describe Hardee’s,” said John Douglass, who owns the property behind the business. “In 1986, my wife and I were shown a picture of how wonderful Hardee’s would be. For the last 25 years, it has been nothing but misery for us.”
Douglass says the business does not have 36 pine trees as promised to help reduce sound. The oil prevents him from keeping his house clean, and the back parking lot is regularly open and used by traffic at night.
“Big trucks pull in there at all hours of the night,” he said. “I’ve had to call the police between 50 and 75 times in the last 25 years. You can check the records. This is the problem with spot zoning.”
Everett Brock, current McMinnville Vice Mayor and Hardee’s neighbor, says at least two rooms in his house are lit up every night by the business and trash is always a problem.
“I don’t have the same problems as Mr. Douglass,” he said. “My problem is mainly the trash. I find a lot of trash. I know Hardee’s cannot watch all its customers.”
By city code, “No source of illumination for such lots shall be directly visible from any window in any residence in the residential district.”
It’s not all bad news for Hardee’s.
“They do have good food,” said Douglass. “I will give them that. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. They have that going for them.”
Variances are usually given for topographical reasons, not financial, and allowing the variance would change an agreement between the restaurant and its neighbors, says Board of Zoning Appeals chairman David Marttala.
“I don’t think we should change it,” he added.
Board member Roy Pierce questioned if the board has the right to make changes.
“It says we may impose greater limitations,” Pierce says. “It doesn’t say we can reduce the limitations. I think we need legal advice on this.”
A brief recess was called to allow city planner Tommy Lee to contact the city’s legal counsel, attorney Tim Pirtle.
“Mr. Pirtle says he believes the board’s right is implied, but he would suggest the board table this to allow him more time to research the topic before making a final decision on the matter,” said Lee.
Board member Steve Harvey says he would like to see the business fix its first machine, rather than change the restriction to fit the second one.
“I make a motion we reject this variance request,” Harvey said.
Pierce abstained from voting. With only three members of the board present, one of which being the chairman who cannot make a motion or second one, the motion failed due to lack of a second.
After the meeting, Pierce explained that he abstained because he wants a legal opinion.
“I’m not for or against,” he said. “I want to hear what legal has to say. I abstained because I was not ready to make a decision at this time.”
The next meeting of the board is Oct. 11 at noon.