Boardman Dairy Queen ordered to close drive thru for violating zoning ordinance, owners file appeal
The owners of the Dairy Queen on Market Street in Boardman Township are fighting to keep their drive-thru open. The neighbors next to the business have complained that the drive-thru is too close to their house.
“The owners allege that there is a public nuisance with the traffic and the noise and the light,” TJ Keiran, Director of Planning and Zoning said.
In Boardman Township, zoning ordinances require drive-thru speakers to be at least 250 feet away from a house. For the Dairy Queen on the corner of Market Street and Brookfield Avenue, the speakers are towards the back of the building within that allowed limit.
Keiran said the design of the Dairy Queen was mistakenly approved by the former director of planning and zoning.
“We’re looking to correct a situation that should have never occurred,” Keiran said.
The owners of the Dairy Queen, Ray, and Chrissy Smith, said they originally designed the building with the drive-thru further away from the neighborhood and instead be in between them and the Mattress Firm store. But, they said the former Director of Zoning made them change it.
“We assumed and we thought that the government officials were giving us the right and solid information,” Ray said. “We went on that, we built our project and now after everything's all done and over, then it's wrong.”
“We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do,” Chrissy added.
In July, the township ordered the Dairy Queen to close its drive-thru since it violates the zoning laws but that's been put on hold amid the legal battle. The Smiths said they need it to keep it open.
“At least 60 % of our sales will be lost,” Ray said about what will happen if the drive-thru is forced to close.
On Tuesday in the board of zonings public meeting, Keiran is going to suggest to the board that a fence with foam padding be put up in between the house and drive-thru speakers to try and make both sides happy.
The Smiths said they’ve heard a lot of rumors about what the board is suggesting but they have never been approached to discuss any of it officially.
“Once it's in writing, we have something concrete to try and go over that would be great,” Ray said.
Ray and Chrissy are requesting a “variance” with the township, which would essentially make them an exception to the zoning ordinance and keep everything the way it is.
“I would like the outcome to be, I did what I was supposed to do and we’re going to be okay to operate how we were operating,” Ray said.
The board will have 30 days after the testimony ends to make a decision.
The Smiths said if they are not granted the variance, they plan to sue the township to keep the drive-thru open.
The Dairy Queen at 6532 Market St, Boardman opened in March of 2023. It was previously located a few blocks away on Market Street but the Smiths decided to relocate after the pandemic to a plot of land that was big enough to fit a drive-thru. Before the DQ was there, the plot sat vacant for years.
21 News attempted to contact the neighbors behind the Dairy Queen on Brookfield Avenue multiple times but were unable to reach them.