By ALEXANDRA LEBOVITZ
Specially Written for The Leader/Times
CRANFORD — After multiple hearings and much deliberation, the Cranford Board of Adjustment carried a motion on Monday to deny Application No. ZBA 19-020 made by NATC Donuts Inc. to open a Dunkin’ drive-thru location at 49 South Avenue West.
During the meeting, board members were given the opportunity to voice their opinions on the application after attending multiple hearings. Concerns about having a drive-thru restaurant located at the corner of South Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard were raised by various board members. Members voiced their concerns over the safety of having a left turn out of the site driveway on to South Avenue. The applicant conceded to not allow the left turn during the hours between the establishment’s opening and noon, but this did not eliminate the board’s concerns.
The board members also voiced concerns over the impact the business would have on traffic. Various board members said that the opening of a Dunkin’ would cause additional traffic on South Avenue, which was noted to be an already congested street. Secretary Dan Aschenbach said, “The intensity that will come just complicates what is existing.” Concern over the stacking and queuing of the drive-thru also was raised. The traffic expert for Dunkin’ said that 13 cars could occupy the space. Board member Justin Quinn said, “I am concerned over where exactly the spillover is going to go.” He said the potential spillover would add to congestion and could possibly block the intersection. This concern was echoed by Alternate No. 2 Shaun Rees, who said he has looked at other drive-thru Dunkin’ locations and has counted more than 13 cars in their queues.
The board was split on whether or not to approve the application, which Chairperson Ronald Marotta noted is a rare occurrence. A motion to deny the application was put forward by Mr. Aschenbach and was seconded by Vice-Chair Christine Daly. A motion to approve the application was then made by board member Chris Ashrafi and was seconded by Alternate No. 1 Chris Savino.
The board voted for the motion to deny the application first, and only full board members were eligible to vote. Five board members voted to deny the application while Mr. Ashrafi and Alternate Secretary Kent Lucas voted to approve the application. The motion to deny the application was carried as it received the five votes needed.
The board thanked the applicant for its responsiveness to the board’s suggestions and feedback. The public also was thanked for their time and feedback.
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