Albuquerque residents fighting to keep drive-thru restaurant out of neighborhood

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque residents are fighting plans to build a fast food restaurant in their neighborhood.

They said they’re all for the business, just not its drive-thru.

“This is a very pedestrian oriented area,” said Don Hancock with the University Heights Neighborhood Association.

It’s no secret the area right by the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College has lots of foot traffic. But what you won’t see is a lot of restaurants with drive-thrus.

“Within the bounds of the neighborhood association, that McDonald’s is the only drive-thru in the area,” said Hancock.

It was 1978 when Hancock said city council approved an ordinance banning drive-thrus with the University Heights’ limits.

“Drive-thru windows are by their nature in conflict with pedestrians walking along, because pedestrians have to compete with cars crossing the sidewalks and coming in and out,” said Hancock.

But the fast food chain Wienerchnitzel disagrees. It wants to build its latest Albuquerque location in an empty lot on Yale near Coal, within the neighborhood association’s limits.

It’s been fighting the association to move forward with the plans.

“There’s nothing special that should allow this drive-thru to happen when other drive-thrus have not been allowed,” said Hancock.

Wienerchnitzel tells KRQE News 13 that Albuquerque is a great city for its drive-up restaurants.

It also said being near the university and the airport is the perfect location to serve a new group of customers.

The fast food chain also said it reads the ordinance completely different than the association, claiming it doesn’t forbid drive-thrus.

City Council voted Monday for the Zoning Hearing Examiner to do a little more work before a decision is made, like looking closer at pedestrian traffic in the area.

Wienerchnitzel did tell KRQE News 13 it wants to be good neighbors and create more jobs in the area. But the fast food joint is considering if it should keep fighting, or look for a new spot to build.

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