Less than a year after Standish adopted new zoning rules, the Town Council may reverse a key element: the ban on drive-throughs.

A proposal to eliminate the ban was made at the request of a property owner who says that if drive-throughs are prohibited, he won’t be able to develop his land, a 2.5-acre lot at the intersection of routes 25 and 35, the heart of the town’s commercial center.

“What we need is some sort of anchor store to rejuvenate the corner. … Allowing drive-throughs would be one easy way to help make that happen,” said Bob Higgins, who has been trying to sell the land for more than seven years.

Higgins said the land has been under contract three times, but the deals keep falling through because of developers’ frustrations with town regulations. The latest prospective buyer wanted to build a bank and convenience store, but pulled out when he learned about the prohibition on drive-throughs.

That’s when Higgins made a plea to town officials.

On Tuesday, the council could decide to make a concession in order to bring new business into its struggling town center, could stick to its plan for a pedestrian-friendly village, or, as the Ordinance Committee is recommending, could do nothing.

Committee Chairman Mike Blanck said the council is divided on the issue and he doesn’t know what would happen if there was a vote Tuesday. Regardless, he doesn’t believe it’s time to make a decision on a plan that was adopted so recently.

“The opinion of a lot of the townspeople was give it a chance to work,” he said of the new zoning.

Dozens of people attended a council meeting in April to offer opinions on the issue. In general, Blanck said, business owners were in favor of the change, and other residents wanted to keep the new zoning.

One of those residents was Garrett VanAtta, who helped develop the new regulations.

“We put in a lot of effort, and we’re going to try to short-circuit that and throw the whole plan aside?” he said.

Even without the amendment to the zone, a drive-through could be allowed on Higgins’ property through a contract zone, which the council has indicated it would support.

But, Higgins said, that would only benefit his property. Pushing for the zoning amendment would make it easier for all property owners in the town’s center to bring more businesses, jobs and tax dollars into the town, he said.

“We see this as much as an economic development issue as well as a personal one,” Higgins said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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