News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 7, 2013
MDOT approves Dunkin’ Donuts traffic plan
Public hearing on project February 11

by Rich Hewitt

The Maine Department of Transportation has approved the traffic movement plan for the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts development on South Street, but with some requirements.

The state approval comes after meetings in Blue Hill last month with town officials and developer Chuck Lawrence. Lawrence plans to build an approximately 4,000 square-foot building that will house the Dunkin’ Donuts plus two other retail businesses. It will be located across from Lawrence’s TradeWinds Market Place on South Street in front of an existing retention pond.

The key requirement from the state is that Lawrence must pave the existing gravel shoulders along South Street (routes 175 and 172) in front of the development property in order to create two six-foot wide paved shoulders on either side of the road. The total width of the paved area will be 34 feet, with two 11-foot travel lanes as well as the paved shoulders.

The work has been designed to fit in with work on a roundabout planned for the intersection of South Street and Tenney Hill, according to Alina Watt, the project engineer with Hedefine Engineering and Design, which is developing the plans for the development.

“Paved shoulder will also improve maneuverability at the entrances of the developments on either side of the street and will provide easier pedestrian/bicycle access,” she wrote in an email to Judy Jenkins, the town’s code enforcement officer.

According to Jenkins, the idea of including sidewalks and a cross walk to the new development had been discussed during the January planning board meeting and at the work session with MDOT. But the approval makes no mention of either of those features. Jenkins noted that the roundabout project will include four crosswalks.

The MDOT also requires that the development include two driveways, one, an entrance only driveway; the other, exit only. Each must have two lanes. On the southwest side of the property, one entrance lane will provide access to the parking area in front of the building; the other will direct traffic to the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru at the rear of the building.

The two exit lanes, located on the northwest end of the property, will accommodate left-turning and right-turning vehicles.

The MDOT also requires that all plantings and signs be located so that they do not block sightlines. In a separate email to Jenkins, Watt also noted that Lawrence plans to landscape the area with low-lying shrubs that would not cause traffic safety concerns. She also said that Lawrence plans to add additional landscaping at the back of the property in order to shield adjacent property owners from any noise or visual disturbance from the development.

In her email, Watt also said they have revised the parking scheme in the parking lot and increased the parking spaces to 21. She pointed out that while the “fast food, drive-thru” is expected to see peak traffic during the morning hours, the other, retail shops likely will have a later peak period.

“The 21 spaces provide adequate parking, meeting the individual demand of both land uses in the shared occupancy,” she wrote.

In response to concerns about employees using many of the parking spaces, Watt indicated that the plans now show an area that could be used for employee parking in the future, if it is necessary.

The revised plans also include the travel way and turning radii for the tractor trailers that will make deliveries to the shops. Watt said the site layout provides adequate room for tractor trailers and emergency vehicles to move through the site.

Meanwhile, the planning board will hold a public hearing on the proposed development next week at the town hall. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, February 11.

Given the interest generated by the project, the hearing will be held upstairs in Gordon Emerson Hall. Jenkins indicated that, because of the number of people expected to turn out for the hearing, the board may follow a practice it has used in the past and place a time limit on those wishing to speak.

Also, she said there has been some effort to encourage people from neighboring towns to come and voice their opinions on the project. Jenkins said it is unlikely that non-residents will be allowed to speak at the hearing.

Depending on the length of the hearing, the planning board could act on the project at that session, which is the board’s regular monthly meeting.