By Tino Ramirez
Advertiser North Shore Bureau
HALEIWA Debate among North Shore residents over allowing drive-through windows at fast-food restaurants in Haleiwa Town is being rekindled by City Councilwoman Rene Manshos proposal to change land-use laws that bar them.
Mansho said yesterday her proposal was prompted by residents who support McDonalds of Haleiwa, which has the towns only drive-through. An exception to Haleiwas historic district laws granted in 1997 allowed it to open, but the Circuit Court ruled the variance illegal last year.
|Although its variance was ruled illegal, the drive-through at the McDonalds in Haleiwa continues to operate.
Cory Lum The Honolulu Advertiser
McDonalds owner Susan Smith plans a state Supreme Court appeal of the ruling, which resolved a lawsuit by several North Shore residents and the environmental group Life of the Land. In the meantime, the drive-through remains open.
"This is meant to open up discussion, and there are going to be many opportunities for people to speak about the issue," Mansho said. "We dont want to discriminate and give drive-through privileges to certain businesses, like McDonalds. The question is what would the community support within the Haleiwa special district."
Judging from Tuesday nights meeting of the North Shore Neighborhood Board, where the proposal was aired for the first time, residents remain as split as they were when Smiths variance application moved through city government.
Manshos proposal is "outrageous," said Larry McElheny, the boards vice chairman and one of the plaintiffs who sued to overturn the variance. Through the years, he said, residents working with government on developing guidelines for the North Shore have never supported drive-throughs.
"Its not the drive-through, per se," McElheny said. "Its what goes along with it, the financial and economic advantage it gives them. And if you open up all of Haleiwa, then youll get this influx (of drive-throughs). The culture, the values and economy of the community will be diluted."
Residents of Waialua and Haleiwa value McDonalds and the drive-through, Richard Holmberg said.
Smith, he said, provides jobs for youth, supports community programs and had permits to build the drive-through. Just a few people are against it, he said.
"Without it, McDonalds is going to close," said Holmberg, who lives in Waialua. "For senior citizens like us, its a place we go to sit down, have coffee, talk story about old times, how the communitys changing. The drive-through is not hurting anybody."
Board member Ken Newfield said Manshos proposal is meant to help McDonalds win politically what it has not won legally.
Smith said changing the law is the right way to resolve the issue. She said the McDonalds drive-through, which is landscaped and has little effect on traffic, "enhanced the country image of Haleiwa."
If other drive-throughs are required to be built in the same way, they, too, will have little effect, she said.
"In the last three years, the drive-through has added 24 jobs," Smith said. "Its been beneficial for the community in economic revitalization, and thats as important to Haleiwa as historic preservation."
McElheny described drive-throughs effects as "incremental degradation." "Change happens bit by bit. This countryside wont be urbanized overnight. It will happen one drive-through, one traffic signal, one streetlight at a time."
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