Home Government COMMENTARY: VOTE NO on ARTICLE 21 at Town Meeting

COMMENTARY: VOTE NO on ARTICLE 21 at Town Meeting

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Do you WANT to see a line of Fast-Food Joints

Along Route 110 in Westford?

By Chris Kuntz

 The town’s Planning Board is rushing to push last-minute adoption at Town Meeting of a Zoning Bylaw change, allowing SIX drive-through restaurants to be located along Rte. 110 in Westford.

Although drive-through restaurants are strictly prohibited by Westford’s Zoning Bylaw and Comprehensive Master Plan (2009) – nonetheless, this topic is being propelled forward on an accelerated timeline, despite being repeatedly defeated at four previous Town Meetings (including last October).

With 35 restaurants already in the Rte. 110 commercial district, nearly all provide take-out, curbside and/or contactless delivery now!  Over the past year, they’ve adapted to accommodate diverse needs, innovating creative new food delivery methods – and ideas and technologies are still evolving!

Permitting SIX drive-through establishments will attract myriad “fast food” joints, changing our restaurant climate, limiting variety, menu choices, and reducing the ability of existing restaurants to compete, putting some out-of-business.  It will also create additional traffic, congestion, noise, pollution, and litter – altering the character of Rte. 110 and the town, permanently.

The Town of Acton is facing a similar proposal – but their Design Review Board (advisors to their Select Board) has clearly articulated their opposition to drive-up windows in Acton, stating:

“Drive-up windows will fundamentally alter the physical character of Acton, are unnecessary, and will prove detrimental to Acton (antithetical to the planning efforts over the past decade to promote a less vehicle-centric environment; plus more carbon waste and greenhouse emissions as cars queue being in conflict with Acton’s community goals for energy use and reduction.

“As a practical matter, there isn’t any need for drive-up windows as Covid-19 has accelerated the use of, and established the viability of, multiple pick-up and delivery options for prescriptions, food, liquor and goods of all kinds without the use of drive-up windows.”

Rather than being swayed by the current proposal being driven by major corporate entities, developers and banks, I urge residents to decide for themselves whether drive-through restaurants are the ONLY possible path for Westford, cementing our future.  Do we want Route 110 to become a mecca off Route 495 for “fast-food” joints?

It makes sense for Westford to explore this topic more thoroughly before jumping, prematurely, to an irreversible decision that may not bring about the desired outcome – but will assuredly change the character of our town – forever. — Chris Kuntz is a Westford resident.