Green Light for Dunkin’ Donuts

Franchise could open for business in early spring

By Kevin E. Foley

Kenny and Fran Elmes, right, awaiting the Planning Board’s vote. Photo by K. Foley

Completing a long, scrupulously detailed and at times tortuous 10-month process, the five-member Cold Spring Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night, Dec. 4, to approve the Elmesco application for a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, a convenience store and continued gasoline sales at the Chestnut Street site.

Applicants Kenny and Fran Elmes were all smiles as they accepted congratulations from a few well-wishers at the sparsely attended meeting at the Kemble Avenue VFW Hall. At various times the pair had been sharply critical of the procedures and intentions of the Planning Board.

When the final vote on the site plan approval resolution came, there were no remarks from any of the members other than their “yes” votes.

Ron Lezott, a consulting architect for Dunkin’ Donuts told he thought the franchise store could be operational by early spring assuming all additional bureaucratic requirements were met in the weeks ahead.

Before voting on the matter, the Planning Board devoted another two and a half hours to reviewing issues with Lezott and the applicants’ lawyer, Jennifer Van Tuyl.

Although the subject of considerable critical comment among both the business and residential communities during the Planning Boards’ public hearing in September, the franchise food application also garnered considerable support among residents who have done business with Elmes’ service station for 25 years and believed he merited approval based on his record.

When the project first came to light, it appeared that a majority of Planning Board members were, at the least, highly skeptical that a franchise fast-food operation was in the future interest of the village. But once the Cold Spring village attorney, Stephen Gaba, apparently narrowed the legal scope of the board’s authority, the board’s focus centered on the impact on traffic conditions on the already busy Route 9D commercial corridor. Gaba declined to permit release of his legal opinion, citing attorney-client privilege in response to a freedom-of-information request from The Paper.

Elmesco, at the Planning Board’s behest, contracted for a traffic study, which concluded there would be no negative impact on existing traffic conditions. When that met with both board and public skepticism, the Planning Board asked for an independent review of the study’s methodology, which apparently yielded no anomalies, as the board did not raise the issue again at this latest meeting.

Board members continued, however, to press for small concessions intended to ameliorate what are considered negative effects, such as noise, lights and litter, of the Dunkin’ Donuts business, in particular, the drive-thru operation.

The Elmes committed to hours of operation from 6:00 a.m. and 10 p.m. They also agreed all delivery trucks would only be on site during off hours.

Further it was agreed that fuel and food delivery trucks would not back out onto Route 9D (Chestnut Street) but will instead always turn around on the site and that they will not idle engines or leave headlights on while making deliveries.

Elmesco also agreed to plant new trees on the northern side of the site to buffer noise and light effects from neighboring property.

The Elmes also volunteered to be willing participants in any future village discussions about enhanced walkability features for their site.

7 thoughts on “Green Light for Dunkin’ Donuts

  1. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you Fran and Kenny! You both deserve nothing but good luck! Good for you and God Bless.

  2. Wow, it’s about time. Congrats to you Fran and Kenny for your well-fought efforts.

  3. I hope some elected officials are looking at the full traffic implications of the Dunkin’ Donuts decision, especially for village residents, many of them elderly, who walk. The cross-walk signs are already inadequate and ignored by drivers — especially those who pass through the village on 9D as if on a commuter route. And traffic patterns in and out of the Dunkin’ Donuts will complicate problems further and seem to have been put off by the Board. Additional stop light? Probably necessary. Clarifying what is IN and OUT of the various parking areas? Increasing the No Parking zone on each side of the current crosswalks so drivers get a chance to see pedestrians ready to cross? These are major issues.

    Especially after this morning’s (Sat 12/8) crash, the protection of the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians in the village has not really been addressed in this decision. Of course, the traffic study funded by the applicant found in his favor. Since we are to have the Dunkin’ Donuts let’s figure out a way to keep residents of the village safe.

  4. This is what should of been the outcome months ago. But no …. Many people and boards dragged this along with all kinds of outlandish requests of Kenny. Congrats to Kenny for sticking it out and staying the course. He should sue for what happened to him to recoup some of the moneys he was forced to lay out.

  5. It’s tough to say no to someone who wants to start a legitimate business on their property, but I feel for Main Course, Cupoccino, The Foundry and other locals who are going to lose a lot of business. I hope you guys make it through OK.

  6. Some people in town say they’re worried that the locals (Main Course, Cupoccino, the Foundry) are going to lose business when Dunkin opens. As a small business owner of many years, currently with a shop in downtown Cold Spring, I can assure anyone who thinks that bringing in another coffee shop will hurt existing business, that such is not the case. In fact the opposite is true in my experience. The biggest problem that all the merchants of Main Street are experiencing is a severe lack of foot traffic, especially during the week when this place looks like a ghost town. Anything that brings in more people, especially during the week, will be a boon to all of us, including those closest to DD. The patrons of DD are most likely not the same customers who go to the local, non-franchised establishments; in fact, some of them may not even know that Cold Spring is here and that it is a very special place. I wish Mr. Elmes good luck and want to thank him for making such a huge investment in the town where I have my shop.

  7. So you think A DD right next door to Main Course is not going to hurt their morning business?