October 31, 2014

Deep River P & Z Opens Public Hearing on Proposed Dunkin Donuts Relocation

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission Thursday opened the public hearing on the proposed relocation of Dunkin Donuts to a vacant building at 246 Main St., with the location of the trash dumpster for the store emerging as a major issue during the hearing.

About 30 residents turned out for the public hearing on a special permit application to relocate Dunkin Donuts from 190 Main St., where it has operated since 2009, to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main Street. The applicant. Great American Donut Co. of Plainville, is expected to purchase the property if the relocation wins zoning approval. The building, formerly a garage and later an Irish gifts shop, has been mostly vacant for several years on a triangular-shaped parcel that has frontage on both Main Street and Union Street..

Stuart Fairbank, engineer for the project with the Old Saybrook firm Mcdonald/Sharpe Associates, said the relocation would bring “a facelift,” to the vacant building and surrounding 19,400 square-foot parcel. Fairbank said Dunkin Donuts would occupy 1.600 square-feet on the east, or Main Street side, of the total 3,240 square-foot building, with the western half of the building reserved for an unspecified retail use. While nearly all of the parcel is currently paved, Fairbanks said about 3,000 square-feet of paving would be removed and replaced by grass and landscaped plantings, with only one existing tree to be removed as part of the site improvements.

While some residents speaking during the public hearing expressed general opposition to having a Dunkin Donuts on the site, most speakers focused on specific elements for of the site plan for a parcel that many described as the southern “gateway” to the downtown area. Much of the discussion focused on the location for the trash dumpster for the franchise.

After preliminary discussions with the commission and the town advisory design review board, the current plan calls for locating the dumpster behind fencing at the southern end of the parcel, which is also the apex for the two streets. John Cunningham, a Madison landscape architect retained by the applicants, said plantings with “seasonal color” would “soften,” but not completely obscure the fenced area with the dumpster.

Most speakers, including design review board members Peter Howard and Alan Paradis, objected to locating the dumpster at the front of the property. But Jonathan Rapp, who owns the abutting property on the north side of the parcel, said he would object to locating the dumpster behind the existing building and closer to his residential property. There were also questions about exactly what type of business would locate in the open space on the Union Street side of the building.

Fairbank said the applicants are open to guidance from the commission on where to locate the trash dumpster. The commission closed the public hearing and is expected to discuss the application at its Dec. 19 meeting.