Wells Fargo drive-thru in Aspen a casualty of moratorium
The city’s freeze on land-use applications means Aspen is now a one-drive-thru town.
At 2 p.m. Friday, the Wells Fargo branch in Aspen closed its two-lane drive-thru. The reason: It couldn’t install an ATM there.
“We wanted an ATM but the city wouldn’t let us,” said Andrea Morote, service manager at the Aspen branch.
That decision prompted Wells Fargo’s district manager to shut down the drive-thru.
Putting a money machine there would have required Wells Fargo to go through a commercial-design review with the city, said Jessica Garrow, director of the Community Development Department. That type of review is considered a land-use application, which can’t be filed for properties in Aspen’s commercial districts because of a moratorium the City Council passed in March. The development ban applies to the city’s commercial, service-commercial-industrial, neighborhood commercial and mixed-zone districts. It expires Feb. 28.
“We let them know that because of the moratorium we cannot accept any new land-use applications, so they would need to wait until the moratorium is lifted and new commercial design guidelines are in place for them to apply,” Garrow said.
The city also rejected the ATM because drive-thrus are no longer allowed in the city. The bank’s was grandfathered in when the law was passed, said Amy Simon, the city’s historic preservation officer.
“(The Planning Department) told them this would not be allowed because it would be an increase in the use of a nonconforming condition,” Simon said in an email. “The teller windows are only open during business hours, but the ATM would be active 24/7.”
U.S. Bank’s branch location at 420 E. Main St. is the other drive-thru in Aspen. No restaurants or other retailers offer the service.
Idling vehicles at the bank’s drive-thru also had been a concern to the city.
Motorists whose vehicles idle for 5 minutes or longer can initially be fined $100.
The Wells Fargo branch had a sign warning drive-thru users of the idling rule, which has been in place for roughly 30 years.
“Historically, we have gotten complaints here or there about the drive-thru (at Wells Fargo ) and vehicles idling,” said Jannette Whitcomb, senior environmental health specialist for the city. “We’ve never done ticketing or anything like that, but I think Wells Fargo was cognizant of the idling and the exhaust.”
She added: “Wells Fargo isn’t in violation, it’s the people leaving their cars on.”
Customers who use the drive-thru weren’t pleased, Morote said. It has created more customer traffic in the bank lobby and the indoor entrance that has two ATM machines. Users who typically used the drive-thru now must park their vehicles during a time when the city’s downtown parking rates are 50 percent higher from June through August. Parking hours are enforced from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“It has created an issue with our customers,” Morote said. “Hopefully they will let us put in an ATM.”
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