DD Drive-thru Not Fully Supported: Draws Those Favoring and Opposing Plan for Bennington St. Location at OHNC Meeting

February 26, 2014
By
An architect for Dunkin Donuts on Bennington Street in Orient Heights pitches the half a million-dollar rehab the owners plan to complete.

An architect for Dunkin
Donuts on Bennington Street
in Orient Heights pitches the
half a million-dollar rehab the
owners plan to complete.

Owners of the Dunkin Donuts on Bennington Street are planning a $550,000 renovation to the interior and exterior of the current 13,000 sq. ft. building and want to add a drive thru as an added amenity.

Attorney for Dunkin Donuts, Jeff Drago, said the building would receive a new façade, stonework, new attractive lighting, and added greenspace in and around the parking lot. The interior will be completely overhauled and add more seating for customers.

There would also be an addition of café-style outdoor seating in front of the restaurant.

The owners would need zoning relief for the drive thru aspect of the plan. No date at the Zoning Board of Appeals has been set as of yet.

The popular Orient Heights coffee shop at 951 Bennington St. would add an entrance point in its existing parking lot for the drive thru. Those exiting the drive thru would be able to only turn right onto Bennington St. according to the designs.

OHNC members like Mary Carrozza said she liked the idea of having a drive thru at the location.

“I hate that in the morning when I’m in a rush I have to find a parking space, get out of my car, wait in line, order my coffee, get back into my car and pull out of the lot,” she said. “

However, not all were thrilled with the drive thru. Orient Heights resident Paul Travaglini said while the owners took into account their busy times between 7 and 9 a.m. as having little impact on existing traffic, he questioned what would happen later in the afternoon.

“Anyone who knows that intersection knows that at 4,5, and 6 p.m. the traffic is backed up down Bennington Street because of the light at Bennington and Saratoga,” he said. “If drivers get stuck in the drive thru and can’t get out I’m concerned about how that will impact the street.”

Orient Heights resident George Arrigo has the same concerns as Travaglini.

Ownership said that those hours are their least busiest times and only process about 30 or so orders per hour after the morning rush when business is at its peak.

Mary Berninger wasn’t sure she supports the drive thru plan and had some reserves about the overall design.

“I don’t think we should assume another stress on an already congested roadway,” said Berninger. “I’m not one to accommodate the need of every business owner if it is an the expense of the community.”

While Berninger wasn’t a fan of the drive thru there were some aspects of the project she liked including the gooseneck lighting and outdoor seating. However she did have some concerns of the façade design.

“To me its just another cookie cutter, sterile corporate look with garish orange and glossy signs,” she said. “I would like to see something that doesn’t scream corporate.”

In other matters, the Council heard from representatives from the Centers for Alternative Medicine Inc. (CAM).  Council members were told that CAM officials will be meeting with the Department of Public Health seeking to be qualified to open a medical marijuana shop in Suffolk County.  In a ruling last month the Department of Public Health gave CAM a failing grade on their application.

CAM has settled on placing a medical marijuana dispensary at 220 William F. McClellan Highway in East Boston, the former site of Enterprise Rental Car.

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