August 28, 2013

Augusta board OKs new Dunkin' Donuts on lower Western Avenue

Development will close drive-thru shop on Sewall Street, across from Muskie federal building; project still needs MDOT approval

By Keith Edwards
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

This photo taken Aug. 14 shows the former bank building at 22 Western Ave. in Augusta, that is the proposed site for a Dunkin Donuts in Augusta. A drive-through location nearby, on Sewall Street, would close if the development is approved.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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He said the business sought to be open between 5 a.m. and midnight, which he said is later than other Dunkin' Donuts in the city. He said other businesses in the area, such as Domino's Pizza directly across Melville Street, are open as late as 1 or 2 a.m., so a business being open to midnight would not be incompatible.

Board member Linda Conti said she would not vote to approve the business operating until that late at night. She said when there was a Dunkin' Donuts nearby several years ago it was open late at night and frequently required police responses.

Planners later voted to restrict operating hours to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Company officials noted the move from the Sewall Street site to Western Avenue would be an improvement for all.

Braley wrote in application materials that closing the Sewell Street site will be "a major benefit" to the city and its people.

He said the popularity of the site has resulted in traffic issues related to the long drive-thru line and the new one "will be much better able to handle the existing Sewall Street customers and hopefully new customers as well."

Braley said there are no plans to alter the exterior brick facade of the 3,120 square-foot building or make other significant changes to the property.

The project would add a six-foot-high stockade fence on the east property line to improve the privacy of residences on Chapel Street. Much of the rest of the lot is already landscaped with buffer zones surrounding much of the property.

Melville Street is a dead-end street, although other streets, including Chapel Street, may physically be accessed from Melville through private office parking lots to the rear of both those streets.

Curtis Picard, executive director of the Retail Association of Maine, which is in an office building at the end of Melville Street, and George Gilmore, an owner of a company that owns a three-story office building at 77 Sewall St., both said they are concerned about customers leaving Dunkin' Donuts and cutting through their private parking lots.

"Folks in a hurry are remarkably creative — I suspect access in and out of (the office buildings' parking lots by Dunkin' customers) may be a concern once this is in full operation," Gilmore said.

At their Aug. 13, meeting planners voted unanimously against recommending another site, on Davenport Street on the city's east side, be rezoned to allow for another proposed new Dunkin' Donuts Cafua sought. Numerous neighbors spoke against that project.

There are already five Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Augusta.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

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