Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 09 May 2007 07:17
|Traffic study plan for emprise bank drive-through. Click image to enlarge.
In late November, the council denied an initial proposal from the bank, even though the plan had been recommended for approval by the city’s Planning Commission.
At the time, the council cited the loss of seven parking spaces on Main Street, and that some of those lost spaces would unfairly affect a neighboring business, Prudent Tours.
The new plan also was approved by the Planning Commission. As in the original proposal, the new plan assumes the removal of the building that currently exists between Emprise and Prudent Tours.
But the new plan would have customer traffic entering the drive-through lane from Main Street rather than exiting it onto Main Street. With the placement of traffic islands, vehicles would not be able to enter from the southbound lane of Main Street.
The new plan, presented by Brad Bartel, Emprise vice president, would eliminate only three parking spaces, none of which would be in front of the Prudent Tours building.
Vehicles would enter across the sidewalk through a single lane, which would then branch into two lanes—one for a drive-up window and the other for an automatic teller machine.
Bartel said the drive-through lane would be long enough to accommodate up to three cars.
“I don’t see traffic backing up onto Main Street,” Bartel said, “because we’ll be able to serve our customers more efficiently than we could before.”
Even though the new plan eliminates the loss of parking spaces in front of his building, Prudent Tours owner Hank Wiebe said he still had some apprehensions about the project.
One concern was whether the southwest corner of his building would be adequately protected from vehicles, given the angle at which they enter the lane.
Bartel said Wiebe’s building should be adequately protected by a curb that will run along the north edge of the drive-through lane, and that additional protection could be added.
Wiebe also questioned whether the south wall of his building would be adequately protected when the neighboring structure was razed.
Bartel said project consultants had shied away from guaranteeing the process would leave the Prudent building unaffected, but it was the bank’s intent to leave the wall in better condition, both structurally and aesthetically.
Wiebe said his most pressing issue was whether a future city council would be as concerned about his interests if, for whatever reasons, the current construction plan proves inadequate and Emprise requests changes that would affect his building and business.
“I can imagine them saying, ‘Emprise has invested so much money in this project that we’ve got to make this work,’” Wiebe said.
Council members agreed they couldn’t guarantee what action future councils would take.
Councilor Byron McCarty asked Bartel how Hillsboro citizens, not just the bank, would benefit from the project.
Bartel replied that, obviously, Hillsboro citizens who were Emprise customers would benefit from better service. But he also said the new lane would improve traffic flow and safety downtown as well contribute to the sense of “activity” in the downtown business district.
As the discussion moved toward a vote, McCarty said it was important to him that Wiebe was “comfortable” with the project, specifically the protection of his building.
“I would like some assurances,” Wiebe replied.
Bartel said Emprise would work with Wiebe toward that end.
Councilor Shane Marler said he didn’t like the idea of tearing down old buildings downtown, “but I recognize you have a busy business there,” he added.
Bartel said plans call for an archway to be built over the entry point of the drive-through lane, which would visually diminish the sense of having a hole on Main Street.
In the end, the council approved the plan 3-0. Bob Watson, who was elected to the city council last month and is president of Emprise in Hillsboro, exited the meeting room during Bartel’s presentation and did not return until after the vote.