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Aldermen Put Conditions on North Woburn Dunkin' Donuts Approval

Suggested conditions include a 10 a.m. opening time restriction on whatever business leases the rest of the building.

Moving Forward

The has been a point of major contention for the Special Permits Committee as of late. At a Monday night meeting, a continuation of last week's discussions was held, but no decision was made.

The City Council's Special Permits Committee went over terms for Dunks to move forward with their North Woburn expansion proposal.

Dunks' Changes to Proposal

Bruce Ringwall of GPR Engineering Solutions, the development company behind the drive-thru and other alterations to the 3,000 square foot lot the 880 Main Street Dunkins rests in, gave a presentation on changes made to the development plans from last Monday's meeting.

Ringwall highlighted an updated drive-thru scheme to expedite traffic in the lot by adding Do Not Enter signs at the southern entrance and creating two lanes—one for parking in the lot, and the other for the drive-thru. Added to this, Ringwall and GPR changed some parking spaces to Compact Only spots to make more space at the northern entrance/exit.

“We now have much better circulation and traffic layout for this location,” explained Ringwall.

The parking lot will be losing eight spaces if the drive-thru is accepted under the current plan, going from 60 spots to 52. Ringwall estimated that 50-60 percent of Dunkin's customers will use the drive-thru, so the lose of eight spaces will still give adequate parking for the lot of all other abutting businesses.

Alderman and Special Permits Committee Member Michael Anderson questioned whether the size of fire engines or ambulances would be a problem with the drive-thru. Ringwall assured the Committee that any emergency vehicle will be able to enter/exit and have no trouble navigating the lot.

Clauses and Special Conditions for Future Space

The latter half of Monday night's meeting was spent discussing the particular special conditions for the proposed renovation. Here is a brief rundown of some of the most pertinent clauses the Committee discussed:

  • Length of drive-thru line restrictions marked by signage.
  • No illumination from Dunkin' Donuts onto abutters.
  • Dunkin' Donuts will be responsible for their own snow removal and cannot use parking spaces to dump snow.
  • A specific location for fenced-off dumpsters.
  • This special permit and agreements will only be used for a franchised Dunkin' Donuts and won't hold precedent over any other fast food locations currently or anticipated in Woburn.

In connection with all these clauses, the Special Permit Committee talked about seeking out a special condition for the empty space next to Dunkin' Donuts. Since the drive-thru will create much more early morning traffic in the area, the Committee seeks to have a special condition placed that any business that wants to use the space next door won't be able to open their doors until 10:00 a.m.

But the 10 a.m. opening time for the empty space was a contentious point among the Committee.

Finance Committee Member and Alderman Raymond Drapeau, who has sat in at these meetings as an overseer, stated, “I think this is getting a little messy. We don't want to put restrictions on the adjoining space, especially when we don't know what's coming.”

Alderman and Committee Member Michael Raymond expressed his concern for why such a measure was necessary when he said, “We will go along with this, if we have control over what goes in on the other half of the lot.”

Alderman Drapeau also thought the compact spaces wouldn't make any difference and space within the lot concerning future business and with the drive-thru would still be a problem.

Committee Chairman Richard Gately explained, “We have done all we can for you guys,” aiming his comments at the Dunkin' Donuts associates, “and we have given you all the advice we can offer. It's up to you now.”

The Dunkin' Donuts associates are expected to prepare a final draft of their drive-thru plans as well as an updated contract agreeing with the Committee's terms in order to move the drive-thru forward. The final meeting for this back and forth will take place Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Joe August 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM
I love Dunkin Donuts but having a drive thru at this location is ridiculous. All the talk about the time it takes for sandwiches times does nothing to diminish the traffic in that area in the mornings and evenings and the fact that the drive thru customers will still have trouble pulling out into traffice. This particular area is experiencing high growth with the new condominium project at St. Anthony's and other projects. How much more can one small area experience before the City realizes that this particular area just cannot accommodate more traffic. Finally, does anyone really believe that the Catholic church won't close St. Anthony's and sell the property to developers since they already have won new zoning for their parcel?
William August 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Perhaps the owners should tear down the entire complex and build section 8 housing? That is what developers in the past have done when they ran into an overbearing city council/planning board. Let the business operate with just one condition. Have an officer write two tickets (one for the driver and one for the shop owner) for every car that is backed up onto main st. waiting for the drive thru. This will motivate the business to make there OWN corrections and provide incentive for the lazy driver to actually get out of the car and order their 2,000 calorie mocha espresso triple doughnut special. I agree with Jean about the Church; To bad there is no stipulation that if they do sell they must pay forward to the city all the property taxes that they should have been and should be paying. Last I checked the "church" enjoys the benefits of tax funded services and should help pay for them.
Dale Johnson August 30, 2011 at 01:45 PM
I think the location can work if the drive thru is Donut/Coffee only, and they have to come back to the committee after a year to re-up the permit. Is it heavy handed? NO woburn traffic is terrible, only gettingworse in this location and the more you do to fix it now the better off everyone upo there is later. A good city controls traffic, not ignores it.
Gina Leto August 30, 2011 at 09:28 PM
The whole thing is absurd. North Woburn is a traffic nightmare. Everytime they want to do something new it involves more traffic. I can't even get out of my driveway at rush hours because of the back up of the lights on School St and Main... come on now, enough is enough. Not too mention at 5 if I have my windows open, I can't even hear myself think its so loud!!! I can't leave my dog out because she is barking at all the trucks and suvs sitting in front of my house not moving. They don't realize that the impact is not just felt on Main but all the side roads as well??? I wrote to my alderman and he replied "Thank you for your email of concerns. I will take them into consideration." I am not sure exactly what that means he will do.

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