The fate of a proposed West Main Street Dunkin’ Donuts is back in the hands of city planners.
The Genesee County Planning Board took “no action” Thursday night, on dramatically revised plans for the project.
The county board voted 3 to 2 on a requested subdivision, special use permit, sign permits and area variances for a new drive-thru restaurant at West Main and River streets.
The city Planning & Development Committee can now vote to approve — or deny — the project by a simple majority vote.
“We’re happy with that,” said Kip Finley, project development manager for Indus Hospitality, told the county board.
Thursday was the fourth time Indus Hospitality has appeared before county planners since June 2014. The county took no action then and once again the following September, before recommending city disapproval this past August.
The city committee voted the project down in September 2014.
On Thursday, Finley told county planners he hoped “the fourth time’s the charm.”
“This time we’re back here because, I think, the city officials took pity on us because we weren’t quite getting it,” he said.
Indus Hospitality revised its plans — particularly for the design of the building — based on input from the city panel, Finley said.
Dunkin’ Donuts would be located on land between Five Star Bank and Barrett’s Batavia Marine. It would be owned by Mike Mikolajczyk, who also owns the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise at East Main Street and Ellicott Avenue.
The revised site plan now calls for a bigger building — enlarged from 1,700 square feet to 2,170 square feet — that is much closer to West Main Street. The entrance has been relocated to the west of the restaurant.
Those changes allow for a longer drive-thru queue off West Main, that would accommodate 12 vehicles instead of seven. A second “bypass lane” immediately adjacent to the west, would allow separate access to restaurant parking and the bank ATM.
That should alleviate concerns about backed-up drive-thru traffic blocking West Main Street during rush hour, Finley said.
Unchanged, is a proposed parking lot exit to the east of Dunkin’ Donuts. Parking and the drive-thru could also be accessed via River Street from existing driveways on either side Five Star Bank.
The restaurant was also redesigned, based on preferences shown by the city Planning & Development Committee, Finley said. It would have a gabled roof, and patio seating facing West Main.
“The architecture is now not at all prototype for Dunkin’,” Finley said. “It’s more fitting in with the residential character of the other buildings (in the neighborhood).”
The addition of landscaping, is intended to block the view of the parking lot from homes on Redfield Parkway.
County Planning Department staff recommended approval of Dunkin’ Donuts requests, with one modification: that a free-standing pylon sign facing West Main Street be replaced with an externally lit monument-style sign.
Finley said a raised sign is necessary for visibility, but said his firm is willing to consider a smaller, or even externally lit pylon sign.
The sign would be illuminated only during hours of operation, which would be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Planning Board members Robert Bennet, Laraine Caton and Lucine Kauffman voted to approve. Ginny Adams and Tom Schubmehl voted against.
With only five of nine Planning Board members present, a recommendation for approval would have required five votes. A vote to disapprove, would have required a majority-plus-one vote for the city board to overturn the decision.
The city Planning & Development Committee’s Nov. 17 agenda includes a public hearing and possible vote on the Dunkin’ Donuts application.
Neighbors who spoke at Thursday’s meeting, said they have not changed their views on the project.
“I’ve been in favor of the project since the very beginning,” said Nelson Baker, of Redfield Parkway. “I can see the cars in the parking lot at Five Star Bank and they don’t bother me at all.”
But another Redfield Parkway resident, Donald Fryling, insisted the parcel is too small for Dunkin’ Donuts, and another drive-thru is too much for the community.
“I’m concerned about adding traffic to an area that’s already extremely congested and dangerous,” Fryling said. “Does a community our size really need a fourth doughnut shop (and) an 11th drive-thru?
“The community doesn’t want it there,” he said.
Nann Zorn, who lives on River Street, said the new site plan doesn’t change her concerns about traffic.
“Regardless of how beautiful the plans are for the building, none of the aesthetic changes will improve its location,” Zorn said.
“Nobody’s addressing the overall issue,” she continued. “And the overall issue is the fact that this is the wrong place for this business.”