Planning board gives preliminary approval to construction of new Dunkin' Donuts building

By Ben Holbrook | Jun 17, 2014

Belfast — Members of the Belfast planning board gave preliminary approval for an application to demolish the existing Dunkin' Donuts building on Starrett Drive and replace it with a new, larger facility.

The planning board spent about one hour discussing the proposal during a preliminary review Wednesday, June 11. Scott Brayley, of Plymouth Engineering, attended the meeting to explain the planned demolition and construction, as well as to answer any questions.

Brayley said the new Dunkin' Donuts building will be approximately 2,080 square feet — the existing building is between 1,050 and 1,075 square feet — and will be moved about 50 feet from where the current building sits.

He further explained that the corporate office for Dunkin' Donuts requires updates to the buildings every 10 years and that requirement coincides with the planned new construction.

The new building will allow for a number of improvements with a redesigned drive-thru, one of the major changes highlighted by Brayley. He noted that traffic tends to back up onto Starrett Drive during the early morning hours when customers are going through the drive-thru. The new building will have a larger drive-thru that will accommodate up to 15 vehicles, as required by the Department of Transportation and Dunkin' Donuts' corporate office, which should alleviate some of the current traffic issues.

Brayley said lighting will remain largely the same as it is now and plantings will be added around the property.

In terms of aesthetics, Brayley said the new Dunkin' Donuts will have a more muted color scheme when compared to the existing building. He said an entry tower on the building will start out with darker colors at the bottom before it gradually lightens in color at the top. The effect is intended to simulate what a cup of coffee looks like and better advertise the product the business sells, he said.

Although Brayley did not have a specific floor plan to present, he said he believed the new building would have about 29 seats inside, with additional seating available on an outdoor patio.

Brayley said the proposed plan will reduce the number of available parking spaces to 162, but that number still provides for more parking than is required under the city's ordinance.

He also noted the plan is to keep the existing Dunkin' Donuts restaurant open while the new and larger building is under construction. Once the new building is operational, the old one will be demolished, he said.

Some of the other features of the new building Brayley pointed out included the fact that a microphone and speaker will not be placed in the menu board for customers in the drive through. Instead, he said a small speaker and microphone is placed on the curb directly adjacent to the vehicle and the volume of the device can be controlled to the decibel.

At the end of Brayley's presentation, planning board chair Paul Hamilton opened and then quickly closed a public hearing after no one spoke for or against the project.

While members of the planning board asked for additional clarification on certain aspects of the plan, much of their discussion focused on the drive-thru area and the possible addition of a sidewalk to safely direct pedestrians to the front of the building. Brayley said it would be possible to construct a five-foot-wide path adjacent to the drive-thru, but that would require the planning board grant a waiver to allow for 24-foot driving aisles between parking spaces between Dunkin' Donuts and VIP from the required 26-foot-wide driving aisles.

The planning board was amenable to granting the waiver and during further discussion. The only other significant issues addressed were snow removal and the possibility of additional plantings. Brayley said he would address the question about snow removal at the next meeting, as well as looking for areas where more plantings could be installed.

Planning board members then voted to give preliminary approval to the project, and the next step will be to complete a final review at a future meeting.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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