The Ashland City Council has short-circuited an effort to loosen drive-thru window rules that were adopted in the 1980s to reduce gas consumption and air pollution.

The Ashland City Council has short-circuited an effort to loosen drive-thru window rules that were adopted in the 1980s to reduce gas consumption and air pollution.

A motion by Councilor Mike Morris to allow four downtown banks to move and bring along their drive-thrus died Tuesday night for lack of a second motion. Councilors offered no immediate answers for why they didn't support the loosening of rules after the motion died.

The Ashland Food Co-Op had pushed for the change so that it could someday expand its parking lot onto the adjacent Umpqua Bank property. Under existing rules, Umpqua and three other downtown banks couldn't bring their drive-thru uses with them if they moved elsewhere.

Ashland Transportation Commissioner Colin Swales testified during Tuesday's meeting that downtown drive-thru windows should be encouraged to gradually fade away over time to make the downtown more pedestrian-friendly.

With the advent of online banking, Swales said there is little reason for people to do their banking at a drive-thru window.

Citywide, Ashland allows only 12 drive-thru windows. Most of those are concentrated in a business area around Exit 14.

The downtown banks' four drive-thru windows predate 1980s laws limiting windows, so they were allowed to remain in use, Ashland Community Development Department Director Bill Molnar said.

But some advocates of a pedestrian-friendly downtown would like to see them disappear.

The Planning Commission had recommended that banks be allowed to relocate and still have drive-thru windows.

The commission had proposed various restrictions to reduce drive-thru impacts downtown if banks relocated, including that the windows never be converted to serve fast food and that they not face major streets.

In other business Tuesday night, the council confirmed the appointment of Portland resident Mark Holden to become the new head of the city's Ashland Fiber Network and electric department.

Holden, who has a high-tech and communications background in business, will start work in Ashland on Sept. 4.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.