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Restaurant Drive-Throughs May Return to West Bay Drive

The Feb. 7 Largo city commission meeting could open the door for restaurants to add drive-throughs on West Bay Drive

LARGO - When the Largo city commission meets Feb. 7, there will be a second reading of an ordinance allowing drive-throughs for restaurants along West Bay Drive once again, in other words, the final step before an ordinance becomes law.

Since 2002, drive-throughs for restaurants were banned in the downtown area of West Bay Dr. While banks and pharmacies were allowed to have a drive-through, restaurants could not.

This was mostly done as a safety measure, said City of Largo economic development manager Teresa Brydon.

"We didn't want to impact pedestrians and the neighborhood," Brydon said. "We were trying to develop downtown as a more walkable area. We didn't want to interfere with the neighborhood."

The new ordinance grandfathered in businesses that already had a drive-through, such as McDonald's. But that idea began to change recently when McDonald's started a nationwide initiative to redesign all of their restaurants including its . But with the Largo ordinance, the restaurant couldn't have a drive-through with the remodeling.

McDonald's approached the city and started the wheels moving for the new ordinance.

Brydon admitted the new ordinance could lead to numerous restaurants adding a drive-through, in theory.

"Does it open us up to other drive-throughs? It does," Brydon said. "But I will also argue that opening restaurants into our downtown corridor is expensive. I don't see a floodgate of other restaurants wanting to do this."

Not every business will automatically be able to open or add a drive-through, however. There are checks and balances in place through various advisory and zoning boards that an establishment would have to go through and standards to meet before obtaining a permit to have a drive-through.

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