By Lara Bricker
Herald Sunday, April 25, 2004
HAMPTON - Those craving a morning cup of joe and muffin will no longer have to drive to North Hampton to find a Dunkin' Donuts.
The Planning Board this past week granted approval for a plan to convert the existing brick building at 369 Lafayette Road into a Dunkin' Donuts and a small retail area. Joe Salema, the franchise owner, who along with Scott Mitchell brought the proposal forward as a project of Caddy Shack LLC, said the renovations to the building should take 90 days. They expect to open by July 1 of this year.
Concerns over traffic to the doughnut shop, both in the drive-through and parking spaces, dominated the board's discussion. In the end, the board decided traffic on Route 1 was bad already and the addition of a new business would be a boon to the area.
"This application is for downtown Hampton," board member Tom Gillick said, adding traffic is always busy on Lafayette Road. "If traffic gets bad enough on Lafayette Road, people will chose not to visit the businesses on Lafayette Road. I think we're beating this to death, frankly."
Town Planner Jennifer Kimball said traffic issues included cars turning onto Route 1, a pass-through lane vs. a drive-through lane, and snow storage.
Salema and Mitchell significantly revised their plan after their last Planning Board meeting. The plan presented this week addressed many of those traffic issues, Kimball said. However, she said Police Chief William Wrenn was still not satisfied with the traffic plan.
Planning Board member Keith Lessard questioned if the location of a crosswalk on the site was too close to the intersection.
Stephen Pernaw, a transportation engineer on the project, said he traveled to two similar locations in the Seacoast to help visualize the plan, including traffic flow, parking space and crosswalk placement. He went to a Dunkin' Donuts in Seabrook and in Stratham. The maximum number of cars that backed up in the drive-through line at Seabrook was six and Stratham was seven.
Joseph Coronati, of Jones and Beach Engineers, pointed out the length of the drive-through line can vary depending on whether there are trucks or cars waiting.
Planning Board member Tom Higgins said he would like to see the plan include a sidewalk to connect to the existing sidewalk next door at Cityland Farms.
Salema and Mitchell said they didn't have a problem with that request. The board granted approval for the project with certain conditions, including a final review by the engineering firm, which had only received the revised plans this past Wednesday morning. Other conditions included moving a crosswalk and modifying the turning radius for cars entering the parking lot.