Letter to the Editor

Say no to Sonic

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

On September 8, the Eureka Springs City Planning Commission turned down plans for a Sonic at the corner of 62 & 23 South. The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) also rejected all attempts by the developer to seek its approval until the developers redrew the plans to take the project out of ARDOT’s jurisdiction by putting the project’s only entrance and exit on Jordan Drive (which runs between the Quality Inn and the defunct Ozarks Family Restaurant). Eureka Springs Public Works denied the project a driveway permit for that entrance and exit. Nevertheless, it is likely that the developers will appeal Planning’s decision to City Council.

The project just generates too much traffic for this location. The zoning governing this site provides that commercial facilities should be “arranged with every consideration for driving safety.” The Sonic will be a traffic nightmare for the residents (including the school-age children) of and visitors to the City, for the City itself, and for the residents on Jordan Drive.

One police officer is already required to direct traffic at the intersection of 62 and 23 South morning and afternoon for school traffic. What if a vehicle filled with students wants to go to the Sonic after school? The traffic that the police officer is directing from 23 South to 65 West will back up at the intersection of Jordan behind the car turning left into the Sonic, which of course that car will not be able to do because of the traffic that was stopped on 62 to allow the 23 South traffic out. His school chum who has already made it through the drive through at Sonic will be unable to turn off Jordan onto Hwy 62, and the rest of the traffic from Sonic and from the Jordan subdivision will then be backed up. Will the City, who is already broke, need to hire a second police officer to assist with this debacle every afternoon during the school year? What about the City’s many tourist events, such as Spring Fling, BBB, the automobile weekends, the Diversity weekends, and War Eagle weekend?

Public Works, Police and, I am told, Fire all oppose this use of Jordan Drive, which would inevitably lead to more accidents. Dwayne Allen of Public Works told me that improvements to the intersection of 23 S and 62 are inevitable. If a roundabout is built at that intersection, which is what ARDOT recommends, the required 30-foot setback on Hwy. 62 and the 15-foot setback on Jordan Drive will be gone, along with all the landscaping, leaving a bald fast food joint along the City’s streetscape and at an important entrance to the City to boot. It will cost the City much more to build that roundabout, or any improvements to that intersection, if this project is permitted to proceed by City Council.

So this project will cost the City much more than it will ever get in taxes, and in exchange it will bring in only minimum-wage jobs, a blight on the City’s streetscape, and a horrendous traffic nightmare. I wish more for the City, and so should you.

Please contact your City Council members and the Mayor and say NO to the Sonic.

Kristi Kendrick