Against the wishes of local bankers, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell Tuesday approved a City Council resolution calling on businesses to restrict the use of drive-through facilities.
Local bankers and other business leaders, who had hoped to kill the resolution, said it could lead to stricter controls on drive-throughs.
The resolution asks businesses to close their drive-up windows voluntarily on days when city health officials have declared an ozone emergency. It is far less restrictive than an earlier measure that would have banned the construction of buildings with drive-through facilities. The latter measure failed last week on an 8-5 Council vote.
Bankers and their allies-restaurateurs, dry cleaners, and owners of other businesses that use drive-up windows - worked hard to defeat the more restrictive measure, said Elizabeth Way, head of government relations for the Georgia Bankers Association, which coordinated the banks' lobbying.
"Drive-throughs are a big part of the banking routine here," Ms. Way said, adding that even the milder restriction would "inconvenience the consumer."
The original measure to ban construction of drive-throughs was proposed as an ordinance in July by Councilman Lee Morris. It was intended to help reduce air pollution and make Atlanta's notoriously snarled streets safer for pedestrians.
Backers of the plans say that banks, fast-food chains, and other such businesses contribute to air pollution because customers waiting to be served in the drive-through line let their engines idle rather than turning them off.
Bankers and other opponents said a construction ban would have stifled business development and created an unfair advantage for businesses that already had drive-throughs.
Drive-up windows are popular in Atlanta, bankers said. Charlotte, N.C.- based First Union Corp. has 15 Atlanta branches, nearly all with drive- through facilities. BankAmerica Corp. has 30 branches, most with drive- throughs.
"We know our customers like drive-through banking," said Thomas Coley, chairman of SouthTrust Bank Georgia, a unit of Birmingham, Ala.-based SouthTrust Corp.
"It's one very small part of the pollution problem," he said. The bank has 25 branches with drive-throughs in the city.
The banks sought to convince Council members that pollution affects the whole region, not just Atlanta, and that municipalities should come up with a coordinated plan.
"We opposed this because we said it was a regional issue," Mr. Coley said. "We should be dealing with it that way rather than taking a piecemeal approach, with individual solutions by each municipality."
Municipalities that have banned or severely restricted drive-throughs in their downtowns for aesthetic reasons include Carrboro, N.C., and Santa Monica, Calif.
The Atlanta resolution calls on Georgia's Department of Environmental Protection to encourage the elimination of drive-throughs in other cities.
"This is a good opportunity for businesses and communities to be mindful of the environment," said Nicholas Gold, the mayor's spokesman.
Banking leaders said they think there will be more battles if the City Council tries to require special-use permits for drive-throughs. "We are concerned going forward," said Joseph Brannen, president of the bankers association.