The Mt. Pleasant city attorney said he hopes to put a resolution to the Taco Boy drive-thru controversy before the city commission by the middle of next month.
Mike Homier, the attorney for the city of Mt. Pleasant, said Wednesday he was working with David Gilbert, the attorney representing the restaurant’s property, to meet stacking requirements intended to protect public safety while allowing at the longtime Mt. Pleasant restaurant to thrive.
“I think in conversations with Mr. Gilbert, we have a way forward,” he said.
The stacking requirement – the amount of space required for cars waiting to use the drive-thru – was at the heart of the Zoning Appeal Board’s denial in December of a waiver request to allow the restaurant to continue using the drive-thru, Homier mentioned.
Taco Boy owner Robert Baltierrez appealed the decision to circuit court, a requirement of state law. The two sides had not met in court, with the first hearing scheduled for April 28, according to online court records.
Baltierrez announced Monday that the city is allowing drive-thru to remain open.
That’s true in the short term, Homier said. No enforcement action was expected, especially with an appeal pending before the circuit court. Additionally, he said, the city is focused on finding a solution that will allow the safe management of traffic on a busy road with the ability for the longtime Mt. Pleasant restaurant to remain open.
Both sides are looking for solutions, he said. There are initial indications that the restaurant may not need to take any concrete steps to bring its drive-thru into compliance with city stacking standards.
Homier said he hopes to fix the issue quickly.
“I’d rather do it sooner than later,” he said.
Because the issue involves settling a lawsuit, it would go to the city commission as the city’s legislative body rather than take it to the ZBA again, he said.
The city commission’s next meeting will be on Monday, which he said is likely too early for the documents to be written and all the i’s in dotted and crossed t’s, he said. The earliest possible would be April 11.
Although the restaurant’s drive-thru is rarely full of traffic, the city needs to enforce its stacking requirements evenly across the board, he said.
Baltierrez moved Taco Boy to its current location, which had a drive-thru window but was not using it. He opened it at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when state pandemic rules limited seating in the restaurant.
City officials told him last summer he had to shut down the drive-thru because it didn’t comply with the zoning ordinance and because he had lost his service-entitled status. acquired because a year had passed between when it was last used and when Baltierrez started using it.
Baltierrez took the case to the zoning appeal board in December, seeking a waiver on the grounds that his business needed it to survive in a tough business environment. Last year, that accounted for a quarter of its sales, he previously said.
Four of the six members of the Zoning Appeal Board were present at the December meeting, which constituted a quorum. With three minimum votes required to pass, Baltierrez’s request failed when two of the four voted against.
The ZBA is barred from appealing within one calendar year of denying an application and state law removes the city commission as a release valve, sending all appeals of the decision of the ZBA in circuit court.
Baltierrez filed his appeal in late February.