Amid a collective groan from the audience, the Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday evening to postpone making a decision about a drive-through restaurant.
The proposed restaurant, Yonah Burger, would be located at 1195 Thompson Bridge Road.
About a dozen residents of nearby Green Street Circle turned up at the council’s meeting to oppose the restaurant’s drive-through.
“Honey Baked Ham (down the street) has done just fine without a drive-through window,” said Vivian Luke, who has lived on Green Street Circle for more than a decade.
Other neighbors expressed concerns that the restaurant’s rear exit onto Green Street Circle would pose a safety problem for their close-knit, historic neighborhood that includes 100-year-old homes.
“I have a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old — that is their play yard,” said Jennifer Rudeseal, in reference to her front yard facing the street in question. “Our play space will be taken away if a drive-through is put in.”
According to City Engineer Dee Taylor, current traffic counts on Green Street Circle are lower than that of other residential streets in the area. On Friday, there were 548 vehicle trips on the street, which is “roughly half the number of vehicle trips on the other streets in the area,” Taylor told the council.
Neighbors such as Elizabeth Walton worried the drive-through traffic idling in line at the restaurant and the system’s speaker would create noise pollution issues.
“As a group, we oppose the drive-through,” Walton said.
According to the property owner’s attorney, the drive-through system comes with volume control.
Brenda Haynes, Yonah Burger co-owner, spoke in favor of approval of a special-use permit for the drive-through. She also spoke in dismay about how the potential employer of 12 to 20 employees is being received by the neighborhood.
“I’m really disappointed, I thought we would’ve been more well received,” Haynes said. “We’ve been kicked around a bit.
We really want to make this work, but 70 percent of our business comes through the drive-through.”
The potential Gainesville restaurant would be the third in the chain operated Haynes and her husband Gary Haynes. The other locations are in Cleveland and Dahlonega.
The Thompson Bridge property is currently zoned as neighborhood business and a restaurant is an acceptable use.
The council tabled taking action on the issue until its Nov. 16 meeting to give city staff time to determine if the property owners would consider keeping the property’s access onto Green Street Circle closed while the restaurant remains in business. If closed, the site’s only entrance and exit would be on Thompson Bridge Road.