Riverhead officials are considering allowing drive-thru windows at some eateries in Wading River as part of revisions to town code.
Under the current code, which the town adopted in July 2005, drive-thrus in Wading River are only allowed in the hamlet’s Business CR Zoning Use District as accessories to banks and pharmacies. The amended code would permit drive-thrus at restaurants, coffee shops and cafes.
During a May 12 work session, discussion around the proposed code change at times mentioned a McDonald’s on NY-25A that closed in August 2020. Greg Bergman, a planner for the town, told Newsday that while there had been talk about the fast-food restaurant closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, amending the code was something the town board wanted to move forward with after it was brought up during previous code revision meetings.
Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association, said he opposes allowing the drive-thrus. He said last week that the intersection of NY-25A and Wading River Manor Road where the former McDonald’s is located is a “problematic intersection” with traffic issues that would be made worse with drive-thrus.
“We don’t see that the construction of a drive-thru window would make it flow any better,” Bail said. “In fact, we believe it would have the opposite effect.”
Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar told Newsday on Monday that drive-thrus “serve a purpose to the entire community.”
“(Drive-thrus) were essential during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Aguiar said. “Parents with children and the disabled welcome drive-thru establishments, whether they be for food, pharmaceuticals or other services.”
Aguiar said the town does not currently have an interest in the McDonald’s property. Planning officials will schedule a public hearing to get feedback from the community, she said.