|By Erin O'Connor |
WEST SPRINGFIELD Approximately 60 West Springfield residents who abutt the property of 2260 Westfield Street, spoke out at a Planning Board meeting on Oct. 18 against a proposed Dunkin' Donuts drive-through facility. The residents cited traffic concerns as the number one issue.
The petitioner for the Dunkin' Donuts' was Sunil Patel of North Easton and owner of the property at 2260 Westfield St. The applicant was Consulting and Design, LLC of Lee, which was represented by Ron Fortune.
Katie Harrington, clerk of the Planning Board said traffic is the biggest issue but questioned the noise level while people would be sleeping.
"The hours of operation will be from 5 a.m.- 11 p.m. It is a great opportunity for my client to help his under-performing and undeveloped site," Fortune said to the Board.
"When business will be closed the lighting will be shut off other than those needed for security," Fortune said.
"Is someone going to be ordering their double dip while people are sleeping nearby?" Harrington asked.
Harrington also questioned if there would be an odor.
Rick Cooper, a resident of Charles Avenue for 24 years, spoke to members of the Board about three individuals who were recently injured in a head-on collision that took place Oct. 6 on Westfield St. The collision was said by West Springfield police to be the result of speeding.
"Coming up Westfield Street there is a point where if you are trying to make a left turn drivers in left lane cannot see you before it is too late," Cooper said.
Cooper said to the Board that just about every home in this area of Route 20 has an accident story. "Put the finger on traffic control." Cooper said.
Cooper said that he would be okay with the Dunkin' Donuts facility if a traffic light was put in at the bottom of the hill on Westfield Street.
"No way, to put a light on the bottom of the hill and people pulling out of the plaza would be more havoc," Anthony Bragga an abutter and opponent of the facility said to The Reminder.
Bragga also voiced concerns about his property at 51 Sibley Street as it is facing the proposed lone dumpster that would operate as the main trash receptacle for the Dunkin' Donuts, Dairy Mart and hair salon
"I am here to ask the Planning Board to place the 'common good' of the community ahead of the chink of the cash register," Irene Schuh from Kings Highway said.
"Therefore given the 'common good' to protect our children and adults from the greater temptation to eat harmful junk food, that is the sugar and fat-laden products from a fifth Dunkin' Donuts in the town of West Springfield. We are asking the Planning Board to 'hold the line' on the four Dunkin' Donuts' dispensaries we already have in West Springfield. Enough is enough! It would be an endangerment to the health and safety of members of the community at-large," Schuh said.
Richard Werbiskis, planning director of the Planning Board, said the site was developed 20 years ago and was not up to code with the Board's current landscaping zoning and the new plan does not have much modifications to upgrade the property.
"It is a site that is oddly shaped and there are already buildings existing on it," Fortune said in explaining landscaping constraints.
"Until we get a traffic study it is hard for me to go further," Harrington said to the petitioners and audience in explaining that more information would be needed before a vote of the Board would take place.
"I have concern with backing out of the 2,000 square feet. Can you go left or right from there and people will be pulling in," Harrington said.
"My concern is traffic and the children in the neighborhood. I am concerned with the safety and I worry about it now," Tim Dowd, an abutter since 1968, said.
"My concerns with the traffic is that the Dunkin' Donuts a mile and a half down the road was said to relieve traffic. I feel this is to be put here to tap into the heavy traffic on Dewey St. and Sibley St. has windy hills with no sidewalks," Charles Ferraro, an abutter, said. "Take a walk with me, wear your sneakers and be ready to jump," Nelly Longerdin, an abutter for 38.5 years said to members of the Board in referring to pre-existing traffic concerns.
Werbiskis said that the Municipality has numerous concerns and they have yet to be submitted a traffic study.
Fortune said that the traffic report had not been done yet because of concerns with getting a proper count of vehicles due to road construction in that area.
"Nobody wants it," Bragga said. "Sunny Patel can't get the Dunkin' Donuts without the drive-up. There is no problem with Sunny putting business in there but that is going to drive ten folds of traffic. People see a Dunkin' Donuts and they go crazy. We have no problem with him establishing the property, but with something that is good for the community."
The next hearing will be continued to Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the second floor auditorium located in the J. Edward Christian Municipal Office Building.
This will be the fifth continuation on the proposed Dunkin'' Donuts in front of the Planning Board as a result of conflicts of interest, lack of qualifying members for a vote and not enough information filed. The Planning Board hearing was postponed at the last Oct. 4 meeting after Board Chair Aldo Bertera questioned his own presence in the hearing due to his personal interest in property on Westfield Street. The first hearing was originally scheduled Sept. 6. Different Dunkin' Donuts petitioners had petitioned the Planning Board to use the property that was formerly Little George but were denied by the Board.
Erin O'Connor can be reached at email@example.com