City Planner CJ Hoss said he was concerned with traffic flow on Harvard Street and Dalton Avenue.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A presumed Dunkin' Donuts is now eyeing the Royal Cleaners property on Dalton Avenue for a drive-through eatery.
But, the City Council has ordered the company to pay for a third party to review the proposal for stormwater and traffic issues.
JFJ Holding LLC. filed a proposal for the fast-food drive-through at 68 Dalton Ave. and 19 and 23 Harvard St. to make way for a "donut shop."
The plan would be to tear down the existing Royal Cleaners and two single-family homes on Harvard Street to construct the 2,100 square-foot takeout with a drive-through window.
City Planner CJ Hoss asked for the third-party review of the plans, an option put into city code in 2013, to be paid for by the developer.
"We just want to make sure that is a safe crossing onto Dalton," Hoss said.
Hoss said this is only the second or third time the council invoked the rule to have such a review done. If the company refuses to pay the fees for it, then that is grounds for a denial of the special permit. But, Hoss said the developers have been made aware of the request and are prepared to fund it.
"They've essentially said what you are asking for is reasonable, just let us know what the dollar amount is," Hoss said.
He estimates it will cost the company somewhere in the $10,000 range for the engineering reviews. Hoss said the third-party company would perform its own review with a particular focus on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for stormwater runoff and ensuring the traffic flows and curb cuts won't cause traffic issues.
Hoss didn't specify what store was going there, referring to it only as a doughnut shop. But Council Vice President John Krol said it is likely Dunkin' Donuts, signaling a "political victory" when it came to the St. Mary the Morning Star property.
The proposal comes about a year or so after the company had been denied a special permit just down the road at the former church on Tyler Street. Cafua Management had proposed tearing down the church and building a restaurant but that faced fierce opposition from the community.
"On some level, this has been a political victory for the city," Krol said.
The application is signed by David Cafua, who manages and owns a number of Dunkin' Donuts, and an accompanying traffic study lists "proposed Dunkin' Donuts" as headers.
Dunkin' Donuts has had a particularly tumultuously relationship with the city over the years. It began with issues over traffic congestion at its current First Street store. And then picked up again with a proposal for a drive-through at the site of the former Plunkett School just down the street.
City officials opposed that project and ultimately the special permit for the drive-through portion of the store was denied, which also led to a led to lawsuit. The company moved forward with that project, minus a drive-through, and tore down the 104-year-old school. The site is currently being worked on.
Then the company submitted a plan to tear down the vacant St. Mary's, which triggered significant outrage and the formation of a Friends of St. Mary's group to seek out a new re-use of the property. The company then was denied a special permit and withdrew its application for a drive-through permit at that site.
Now it appears the company has found yet another site, one without quite the historical significance as the other two — though a portion of the Royal Cleaners building is more than 75 years old so approval for the demolition of that will be needed from the Historical Commission.
The plan is a redevelopment of the parcels. SK Design developed the site plans, which include the new building, landscaping, and lighting. Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. already performed and submitted a traffic study for the location. The property is owned by Raymond Frenkel and a Dunkin' Donuts currently operates one block away, also on Dalton Avenue.
The use of the third-party review, however, did see some debate. Councilor at Large Pete White said he objects to the rule as a whole, saying it allows the council to give city staff a "blank check" to charge businesses for additional work.
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi supports the rule saying that when a developer proposes something that needs more information, the company should pay to get those answers and not the taxpayers.
"I really am supportive of project review fees. I think it is one of the best things this council has done," Morandi said.
In 2014, the council invoked the rule on Cafua Management for a Dunkin' Donuts at the St. Mary's property,
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