Within a 30 minute drive of downtown Rochester, beyond the suburban development surrounding the city, is the Village of Honeoye Falls. Honeoye Falls is not a typical crossroads village though. Like Rochester, it was settled due to the location of the waterfalls to provide power to mills in the early 1800s. Unlike Rochester though, it never grew large enough to lose the majority of its Main Street to large suburban plazas, malls, and ‘big boxes’.
Dunkin’ Donuts is interested in constructing a new location with a drive-thru, in a section of the village which currently has a small concentration of commercial development, but the village code currently disallows drive-thru restaurants. The Mayor and some members of the Village Board are supporting a proposal to change the code to allow Dunkin’ Donuts to build a drive-thru even though the village is in the midst of updating the Comprehensive Plan. Convenience and an additional source of revenue for the village government may come at a high cost though if a drive-thru is allowed…
Honeoye Falls is still primarily made up of streets, not roads or the hybrid, ‘stroads’. Streets accommodate automobiles at low speeds, but they also accommodate people walking, biking, skateboarding, wheel chairs, etc., providing dense development, high accessibility, and a safe environment. Roads provide high speed routes between places, and must have limited access points to be effective.
“Stroads” attempt to be both streets and roads but ultimately end up requiring higher infrastructure costs because everything is spread out. They are also generally lacking in character, more hazardous for everyone, and ineffective at accomplishing the goals of either a ‘street’ or a ‘road’.
A drive-thru would be a step towards an automobile centric culture, and turning West Main Street into a ‘stroad’. Although there is currently a turning lane for the small plaza where the local grocery store, hardware store, liquor store and a few other shops are, it is not too late for it remain a street.
Honeoye Falls is very much a walking & bicycling community, and people regularly walk right past the proposed site to visit the residents & businesses in that section of the village. The high speed, impersonal, nature of the drive-thru has no place in such a environment.
Once the code is changed and one drive-thru is allowed, there is little to prevent an entire row of drive-thru restaurants, spaced away from each other to accommodate cars, instead of denser development to accommodate people. That entire section of the village would become more car friendly, and less pedestrian & bicycle friendly. It would be a fundamental change to the character of the community, difficult to reverse.
[See Dunkin Donuts Divides Honeoye Falls on WHAM 13]
Drive-thru restaurants also tend not to be locally owned or operated businesses. In this instance the Dunkin’ Donuts would compete with the small local coffee shop, the family diner’s sandwiches, the ice cream shop’s desserts, and even the local grocery store’s donuts & other offerings.
Some of these businesses are still adjusting to lost business from General Motors moving their plant in Honeoye Falls to Michigan earlier this year. Dunkin’ Donuts may cause further stress, because the drive-thru creates an unfair advantage over these local businesses that have been here all along with the ban in place.
There may be no increase in economic activity either. In this case it is possible the local coffee shop would be unable to complete, and forced to close. If Dunkin’ Donuts then decided the location is not profitable enough to keep open, Honeoye Falls would be left with no coffee shop, and two empty store fronts. The drive-thru is a convenience, but ultimately an unnecessary service & feature, that comes with unintended consequences and risks.
Although Honeoye Falls is not a crossroads village, the future of Honeoye Falls is definitely at a crossroads. To help steer that future, a growing group of concerned citizens have set up a website and a Facebook Group for anyone to join.
Anyone who cares about the future of Honeoye Falls is encouraged to write to the Mayor & Village Board using this online form
And attend the Public Hearing on the proposed code change:
October 21st @ 7:30 pm
Honeoye Falls-Lima School District Auditorium
619 Quaker Meeting House Rd.
Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
About Rob Maurer:
Tags: chain restaurant, city planning, drive-through, drive-thru, Dunkin Donuts, Honeoye Falls, Rob Maurer, zoning, zoning code
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 7:49 am and is filed under Opinion, Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.