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A conceptual plan shows the design for a commercial development on South Street that will include a Dunkin’ Donuts shop and two other commercial spaces. The developer, TradeWinds Market Place owner Chuck Lawrence, says the building will not be a typical corporate design and will be appropriate for the area.
by Rich Hewitt
The Blue Hill Planning Board will get its first look at plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts shop when it meets later this month.
Chuck and Belinda Lawrence have filed an application for a building permit for an approximately 4,000-square-foot development on property they already own on South Street across from their TradeWinds Market Place.
According to Chuck Lawrence, the development would house three retail spaces—the Dunkin’ Donuts shop plus two others still to be determined.
“I’ve been in negotiations with two or three people so far,” he said.
Among the potential tenants are a clothing store and a virtual golf shop.
Lawrence has hired local architect William McHenry to design the building, which, he said, will be a building that will be nice for the neighborhood.
“This won’t be the typical corporate look with a big metal sign outside,” Lawrence said. “We’ve tried to design the right building for the community. This will be a design that fits the area.”
The idea for a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Blue Hill has been around for about 13 years, ever since the Lawrences built the TradeWinds supermarket. Initially, Lawrence said, he had hoped to locate a shop on the TradeWinds property, but there were concerns about the traffic problems it might cause in the supermarket parking lot.
“They were right,” he said. “I would never put it there. It wouldn’t make sense.”
The proposed site is located across the street in front of a retention pond that Lawrence created to offset the impermeable parking lot surfaces at the TradeWinds property. Lawrence removed the existing building on the site in order to create the retention pond, but maintained the existing well on the site which will provide water to the new building. That building will be located between the retention pond and the road and will tie into the existing municipal sewer lines.
Sewell & Co. conducted a traffic study for the proposed site and the Maine Department of Transportation already has issued an entrance permit for the site, according to the town’s code enforcement officer, Judy Jenkins. Plans included with the permit application indicate that there will be one entrance on the southern end of the property and an exit at the opposite end closest to Route 15.
The split entrance will direct traffic to the 19 parking spaces located along the front of the building and to the planned drive-thru window located at the rear of the Dunkin’ Donuts shop. Lawrence said there will be stacking space for up to eight vehicles at the drive-thru.
“That won’t create any traffic issues,” he said.
Ever since the first plan for a Dunkin’ Donuts fell through, TradeWinds customers have been asking when he would bring the franchise to town, Lawrence said.
“Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me when we’re going to bring a Dunkin’ Donuts to town,” he said. “The majority of people do want to have a Dunkin’ Donuts.”
The town offices initially did receive some calls expressing concern about the project, according to Jenkins.
The MacDonald family from Bangor will run the Dunkin’ Donuts, according to Lawrence, who has worked with the family to bring the franchise to two other properties he owns in Milo and Eddington.
“They’re a wonderful family,” he said. “The father, Bruce MacDonald, opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Bangor and they’re in their third generation of ownership. They give a lot back to the community; they’re good people and good community citizens.”
When it opens, the shop will create as many as 20 new jobs for the Blue Hill area, Lawrence said.
Although the town of Blue Hill does not have a zoning ordinance, the project does require a local building permit before it moves ahead. The planning board will conduct an initial review of the application under the town’s commercial site plan review ordinance. That review is scheduled for the board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. on January 14 at the town hall.
Jenkins said that session will be a preliminary review solely to determine whether the application is complete. A public hearing on the project will be held at the board’s meeting in February prior to a decision by the board on the permit.
If all goes well, Lawrence said, they expect to break ground on the project sometime near the end of February or early in March, depending on the weather. He said he expects the Dunkin’ Donuts shop to be open sometime in July.