Elizabeth Seal of The Cranston Herald has written an informative piece on the way that a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru got approved at 480 Pontiac Avenue despite community opposition because of traffic concerns. From the article:
The neighbors of the gas station on the corner of Pontiac Avenue and Laurens Street are preparing a lawsuit after, unbeknownst to them, an application for a Dunkinâ€™ Donuts drive-through, which they thought had been killed in 2005, was approved after all.
The property, which had previously been abandoned and, neighbors say, had become a â€œdump,â€? was bought in 2005 and scheduled to become a Citgo gas station with a Dunkinâ€™ Donuts inside the associated convenience store. Since the store building is set back from the rear of the property, there was room to install a drive-up window and the owner applied for permission to include one.
That irked many area residents, who already consider the Laurens/Pontiac intersection a magnet for accidents and near misses. Sue Pacheco, who lives on Pontiac kitty-corner to the gas station, said the Department of Transportation finally had to install a raised median to help control traffic. [full text]
The story goes on to explain that although there is a law on the book allowing citizens to appeal zoning issues within 20 days of notification about them, it is unclear what decision people can appeal, since traffic engineer decisions can’t be appealed, and the original zoning board decision was completed two years ago.
Dave Fergueson, the traffic engineer who first denied the drive-thru and now has approved it, says he welcomes discussion on this process. I wonder why Mr. Fergueson did not contact Susan Pacheco before he approved the drive-thru, since he was aware of community opposition to the project.
There needs to be a time-limited window for when revised plans can be resubmitted to the city. There should also be a mechanism for notifying the community of the resubmitted plan, so that people affected can be part of the decision-making process. I am confident our councilmember, Emilio Navarro, will help in reforming this process.