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Smith explains drive-thru complaint

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 11:07 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 11:08 a.m. CDT

During Monday night’s Newton City Council meeting Ken Smith voiced his opinion on a drive-thru window at BridgeHouse Coffee Co.

The Daily News was able to sit down and talk with Smith about the matter, and he wanted to express he is not against new businesses coming into Newton. He hopes that Bridgehouse Coffee is a success, but was frustrated on the how the previous council handled Uncle Nancy’s Coffee House’s request for a drive-up window.

“What I was trying to say is I did appreciate the council looking at ways to help a business downtown,” Smith said. “I think that should be the perspective. What I was saying is that I do think they should be fair about it, (and) they shouldn’t help just one to the exclusion of the other. If they are going to let one have a drive-up window they ought of let a similar situated one have a drive-up window (too). In fact they had done this, they turned down a window for one. They were going to grant a window for another.”

Smith knows how hard it is to run a business, especially a new one.

“I don’t have any pox on the new owners coffee shop,” Smith said. “I hope he gets a drive-up window. I really think he’s done a lot of work to qualify. I actually went over there and (checked it out) because I didn’t know if he had four cars stacked up, and after I walked off I thought, ‘What is the issue here?’ I mean the guy has four stacking for the cars. There is room. There is 28 yards there. I can do the math on that. There is plenty of room for four cars.”

Smith has seen Newton go through many changes, and hopes that the city will improve. He went through the same situation that Bridgehouse Coffee is dealing with now, but he was told that a drive-up window in an alley is impossible.

“What I wanted was for them to be equal,” Smith said. “If they granted it to one coffee shop, how can they deny it to the other one because it makes an incredible unfair advantage. So I am not asking them to deny the new one, I am saying grant one to us too.”

A previous council told him the reason that Uncle Nancy’s could not have a drive-up window was because of traffic flow.

“It’s kind of silly to be talking about having the alley blocked because every time a semi (truck) unloads — for all the years the alley existed — it was blocked,” Smith said. “What do you do? Well you go around, it’s blocked. How far do you have to go round, a half a block? Big deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal to put a drive-up window there. I don’t see a reason why it can’t be granted, but I think it should be granted evenly between people similarly situated, otherwise (the council) is preferring one coffee shop over another one.”

He worked hard to try to get a drive-up window approved for Uncle Nancy’s, and found himself frustrated.

“One of the most frustrating things is I got turned down at the staff level, and I am hearing at this presentation that the staff level has been working with him on trying to get the window moved (approved),” Smith said. “(It) was a little bit different approach than (what) was granted on the two I tried.”

It was revealed in the council meeting that Mayor Michael Hansen was related to the Bridgehouse Coffee owner, but Smith does not think it will be an issue.

“I don’t think it’s because he’s the cousin of the mayor’s wife either,” Smith said. “They decided to look upon this with favor.”

Smith has been practicing law for a number of years, and runs several businesses, which he said gives him an insight that some may not have. He said he wants Newton to succeed and wished Bridgehouse Coffee Co. the best.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.

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