The Drive-Thru Question Lives On, or Not — See Update

UPDATE: According to one of our commenters who received an email from Cindy Fogarty, attorney for the neighbors opposing the drive-thru, at around midnight the zoning board upheld the neighbors’ appeal and revoked the building permit. The Projo apparently did not have the full story.

It sounds like the neighbors of the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru at 480 Pontiac Ave in Cranston are at least having their say. Kudos to Emilio Navarro for creating legislation which will make it harder for this kind of lack of community input to occur again. From the Projo:

City Council member Emilio L. Navarro, who represents the area, stumbled across the permit in November while looking into another concern over traffic leaving the property.

And the neighbors who had fought the drive-through objected, arguing that the city should not have approved a controversial project without consulting them.

Administration officials said they understood the neighbors’ concerns.

But they maintained that the city had pursued all the proper procedures: approval of the drive-through was contingent on the traffic engineer’s approval and the engineer had signed off on the proposal, albeit two years after an initial denial.

Navarro agreed that no laws were broken, but said the system was broken if an unelected official could approve such a controversial project without neighborhood input.

So he sponsored an ordinance, approved by the City Council in February, that requires the traffic engineer to sign off on drive-through proposals before the zoning board takes them up –– ensuring that the final decision is made in public, before a panel that takes testimony from residents.

The ordinance also made all drive-though proposals subject to an administrative review designed to ensure that they are in line with city zoning.

But that ordinance did not apply, retroactively, to the Dunkin’ Donuts case –– leading to last night’s meeting.

Neighbor Susan Pacheco appealed the issuance of the building permit for the drive-through.

Her lawyer, Cynthia M. Fogarty, a former City Council member, argued last night that the traffic engineer –– under the old law –– had one chance to approve or deny the drive-through.

Once Ferguson denied it, in 2005, he could not revisit the matter, she suggested.

John DiBona, a lawyer for DiFanti, the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts, argued that there was no such limitation on the traffic engineer’s powers.

But Ponder, the zoning board member, insisted that DiFanti should have come back before the board with a revised drive-through proposal, rather than present it to the traffic engineer for approval.

I have to admit that part of me would like the convenience of a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts so close by. But I’m also one of the neighbors who will be impacted by the cars and traffic issues that this may cause. And the neighbors who are right next to the Dunkin’ Donuts will also have to deal with increased noise and car fumes from idling cars sitting in line.

The fundamental issue is one of homeowner’s rights versus business owner’s rights. Curtis Ponder is correct in that this should not have been allowed to happen without neighbors being involved in the decision-making via the zoning board.


27 thoughts on “The Drive-Thru Question Lives On, or Not — See Update

  1. I understand the Board upheld the neighbor’s appeal as presented by Attorney Fogarty, thereby revoking the building permit.

  2. Apparently the ProJo writer went to bed too early

    From: Cynthia Fogarty
    Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 10:09 AM
    To: ***************

    . . . and around midnight, the Board upheld our appeal thereby revoking the building permit!


  3. Kiersten and neighbors:

    I can confirm that the appeal I argued on behalf of Sue Pacheco was indeed sustained and therefore, the permit is revoked. I have not read the new ordinance, but the law already existed for the appeal to succeed, and that is what we relied upon. In fact, the opposition tried to rely on the new law as a basis for us not to be successful, claiming that even the City Council felt we were out of luck. The neighbors still must be vigilant as the owner/applicants have options – they can pursue an appeal to Superior Court alleging that the Zoning Board was wrong last night, or more importantly to the neighborhood in the near future, they can present a new application for a drive-thru. As the Traffic Engineer has already given his approval to the new plan, the neighors would have to fight the application on other city code requirements for drive-thrus and present their owen experts in an attempt to rebut the applicants’ position. I know pepole do not want to hear that there may be cost involved in such actions, but when you consider that you are trying to protect a part of the value of most persons largest asset, their home, then it can be worth the time, effort and cost.
    Thank you for the emails and support that I received from the community and especially to Sue who stood her ground.

  4. The ProJo’s deadline is something like 10 p.m., so I’m not surprised they missed this development.

    I’m happy, though, that the neighbors successfully fought this proposal. Dunkin tried to get in through the back door improperly.

    As for a potential lawsuit, Oblomov, I hope you’re wrong. But let’s do a little what-if… They have an operating store, not an unfinished project like Cullion. So they’ll have a hard time pushing the “we’ve put a lot of money into it” argument. Plus, it was originally denied — legally. Then, revisited and approved — wrongly. I’m suggesting they don’t really have a leg to stand on, at least in light of the Cullion matter.

  5. I don’t think the store is doing well, it will be just another empty building in that area and that concerns me.

  6. I hope you’re right, Jesse.

    I hope it’s not a case of “money talks”–and gets the last word.

  7. Nice job Sue and Cindy!

    Emillio is doing what should be done – but many on the City Council don’t feel the obligation to take on too much work. Hat’s off to Emilio for ensuring the problem won’t resurface for some neighborhood.

  8. JOC, and if the mayor tries to settle it, he should be impeached. Cindy Fogarty for mayor!

  9. GCF:

    (By the way, I abbreviate your title properly; could you, at least, do the same? Otherwise just call me Jesse.)

    First: Nap won’t wade into this one. A story in today’s ProJo raises the possibility of a Superior Court appeal by DiFanti. I think Nap will be smart enough to stay out of it. And Cranston doesn’t impeach mayors — we vote them out. November will be your chance.

    Second: You’ll have to write in Cindy’s name on the ballot this year, or hope she runs as an Independent. Either way, sorry to tell you, she won’t win. She has no money, no plan, and no concept of how to run a citywide campaign (as the 2006 primary proved). She also won’t have the Dem party’s support; she won’t get the endorsement over a sitting mayor; she did next to nothing to woo the endorsement committee in 06 and got 2 votes. Then she accepted a debate with both Nap and Fung, allowing Nap to distinguish himself (such as it was) and win 67-33% in the primary. There’s no evidence she’ll make better judgments if she were to try again. Not to mention her temperament — let’s call it “not ready for the Mayor’s office,” just to be diplomatic.

    Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if she at least gets her name in a ProJo headline as supporting Fung again and suggesting that she’s helping Fung with some secret fiscal plan to “save Cranston.” It’ll be enough to satisfy her ego, maybe, but not much more than that — especially for Fung, who will lose again.

  10. FYI — I have just added this message to the box below:

    “We do not allow comments which attempt to “out” people’s true identity. We prefer that people post under their real name but we allow people to post under pseudonyms in the interest of creating dialogue with a fuller range of opinions and ideas to be expressed, and with the understanding that some people choose anonymity in order to protect their employment or personal life.”

    I want to say from knowing Cindy that I have a lot of respect for her and I think you are out of line, Jesse, to be implying some negatives about her character without any real evidence. Also, I’m not sure the numbers you quote, — 67% – 33% in her loss to Nap, are correct. Can you please provide a source on this?

  11. “Jesse” – while Kiersten requested that I not name you, I cannot let the lies and untruths you have posted about me remain. In the interest of disclosure (but of course you don’t even wish to stand behind your statements) you should have stated that you were fired from my 2006 campaign after 1 month as you were lazy and did not get one item or article done, which you were supposed to be doing. You have no knowledge of my plans for this election year so you should stick to things you know about – but since you merely throw out information that you don’t know any facts about – I guess that would leave you with nothing to say. You should check the official election results on the Secretary of State website before you misquote numbers again. Try 58% – 42%.
    As for my supporting Allan’s 2006 campaign, I challenge you to find anything that supports that statement also.
    Just more of the same from you – no facts, no knowledge, no matter.

    Thank you Kiersten – but as I said in my email to you – I will be forwarding his identity to my entire contact list – I feel people are entitled to face their accusers – probably just the lawyer in me.

  12. And I’d like to add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I worked on Cindy’s campaign when she ran for mayor, helping her develop a website. Her husband ultimately ended up doing the website as I think my design skills were not really what Cindy had in mind. But despite all that I fully supported Cindy and up until now I thought Jesse from Cranston did as well, given my limited knowledge from his/her blog posts.

    So to find this sore spot is a bit of a surprise. I hope we can carry on admirably. Jesse, I invited you to post because you have been a vigilant contributor to the blog and your posts are usually informative and analytically savvy. Plus I do not always have time to keep up on all the local news. I hope you can continue to participate, but I would urge you to use more care in choosing what you say. Because you can be so intelligent and well-informed, your words are taken very seriously.

  13. Mrs. Fogarty:

    You have me confused with someone else. You should talk to Mark Lucas, who pulled a similar stunt on this blog last summer.

  14. Just to verify for the record, I went to the Secretary of State’s site and the final tally was: 3847 Napolitano, 2743 Fogarty, which is a 58% – 42% result.

  15. Kiersten:

    I made a math error in my impatience. Apologies to Mrs. Fogarty. Thanks for catching it, Kiersten. And, okay, I laid it on pretty thick re.: Cindy’s character. But I’m not the only person in the city (nor is the person she thinks I am) who views her temperament in, shall we say, negative terms. 1,000 more votes against her than for her is all the evidence I need.

    And maybe Mrs. Fogarty missed the concept of “speculation,” but that is what I was offering previously. It’s no secret that her sister headed a “Democrats for Fung” group after the 06 primary (it was reported in the ProJo, including the details of what they ate at Galaxie Restaurant), so it’s not that great a leap (at least to me) to suggest that Cindy may back Fung this year. I will credit her, though, with showing up at the Democratic Party events the day of the election in 06 and accepting Mayor Nap’s diplomatic compliments for a good campaign in the same room she used to kick off her run for Mayor, and later that night at Alpine Country Club. (I wasn’t the only person in either of those rooms who would know that.)

    If I’m guilty of anything, it’s being a close reader of the news and basing my speculation on that. I’d note that Mrs. Fogarty does not refute my suggestion; she simply says I have no idea what her plans are. Well, given the fact that I’m speculating, I admit: no, I don’t.

    I’m not going to address the other accusations in Mrs. Fogarty’s reply (contrary to her use of the term, I accused her of nothing but a temperament unsuitable for the Mayor’s office — which she was kind enough to prove in her reply), as I believe it to be a personal matter that is not mine to address. (Hope you read that closely, GCF.)

    I know who Mrs. Fogarty is attempting to identify — I say “attempting,” because, from what I know, this person resigned from the campaign to work on the successful citywide Council campaigns. So, right there, she’s making a false statement, at least to my knowledge.

    And I am at a loss to understand how falsely spreading someone’s name through an e-mail list constitutes “facing (one’s) accuser.” If she’s so sure who she’s talking about, shouldn’t she make direct contact with this person — rather than engage in an online smear campaign?

    Although, I have to admit, it was pretty entertaining to see her mention her “entire contact list” — just who does she mean? Mayor Nap? Council President Garabedian? Emilio Navarro, whose primary opponent she supported (again, no secret there)? Maybe she means the readers of this blog — in that case, I can tell you with great confidence that it won’t have any effect on the person she’s targeting as he has nothing to do with this blog.

    I’m also concerned at Mrs. Fogarty’s suggestion that she and Kiersten communicated about this matter privately — and that Mrs. Fogarty would then post this information publicly without knowledge of the person Mrs. Fogarty seems to be referring to.

    But that’s between her and the person she mistakes me for. For the time being, I will continue to participate (and thanks to Kiersten for the invitation) and have my say in this important forum. As I showed last summer, I will not be bullied or intimidated into identifying myself. I will, however, take the time to object when anyone suggests that I am someone else.

  16. You know, Jesse, this is a bit much. We’ve gone down this path once before; I let it drop because it didn’t seem worth pursuing–until now.

    You are more than a “close reader of the news.” You have some inside sources that are very close to the Garabedian camp. There is nothing wrong with this. You provide good information, and I find your contributions to be worth reading and informative.

    But when you try to pass yourself off as just some guy who reads the news, ot doesm’t fly. Sorry. Didn’t buy it back when I asked if you were on Garabedian’s payroll, and I don’t especially buy it now. Personally, I have no clue who you might actually be, and I care even less. Obviously, I have no problem with anonymous postings.

    But you also have to realize that Cranston is not a terribly large city, and that the Democtratic establishment is a relatively small group. As such, people are going to try to figure out who you are, because…because because because. Because it’s human nature.

    If you’ll notice, no one here seems to care who I am; but my comments about the local scene are not nearly so informed as yours, so most people probably figure they don’t know me. And they’re probably right. You, however, have an inside connection, so that raises the stakes.

    Plus, if you’re going to say things like “…her temperament — let’s call it “not ready for the Mayor’s office,â€? just to be diplomatic…” you’d best expect that people are going to come back at you. And such judgments, coming from the inside raises the stakes on who you are even further.

    Bottom line is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be anonymous and be an insider at the same time. Human nature, being what it is, won’t stand by and allow you this luxury. That’s not a threat, prohibition, or limitation of mine. It’s just a prediction based on the way people–especially ambitious people–are.

  17. . . . so you want this community to believe that you “happen” to know of whom I refer
    . . . you “happen” to know him well enough to have discussed why he was let go from my campaign
    . . . and because my sister supported Fung’s campaign 2 years ago, the natural leap must be that i am supporting his campaign this year?
    . . . you happened to make a math error
    . . . you imply some impropriety that Kiersten and I had communicated? (a little paranoid, eh? – Kiersten sent me an email explaining her policy of permitting anonymous comments)I disagreed and stated that people who wish to insult, spread lies and untruths and stir up gossip should not be permitted to hide on a site that is otherwise a timely and informative discussion of issues.

    All of this makes any contributions you make to any discussion suspect.

    You also seem to have forgotten that it was you who told me of your “Jesse” identity.

  18. Sorry, Mrs. Fogarty. I don’t have any idea what conversation you’re recalling, but it was not with me.

  19. Folks:

    (I’ve been thinking about this all day and drafting several ways to say it. Hope this works…)

    I want to apologize for my part in driving this thread into the proverbial ditch; in my haste to respond to GCF’s “Cindy for Mayor” comment, I exhibited a distinct lack of thoughtfulness and care. It inadvertently resulted in another episode of baseless guessing and conspiracy theories about who I may be. And for that, I am sorry. Such speculation wastes time and blog space, and impugns the very honorable tradition of allowing anonymous posts (some of America’s earliest political writers used pseudonyms as the Rebellion against Britain took root). To the degree that my actions have harmed that tradition, I also apologize.

    This certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve been guilty of posting comments that are particularly pointed, and in each case I own up to my words and admit missteps. See this post: for an example of where I was called out for my previous comments (on the start page of the thread, no less) and, in response, more fully explained them.

    I have attempted to do the same here — admit my mistakes, defend the more controversial statements I’ve made, correct false statements, and maintain some semblance of polite discussion.

    That I am seen as a dependable source of good information and insight — as Kiersten puts it: “Because you can be so intelligent and well-informed, your words are taken very seriously” — is something I care about very deeply.

    So, for the moment, I will resist rising to the challenge that Mrs. Fogarty has tried to initiate (I will not use the readers of this blog as some kind of informal jury for hashing out private, two-year-old grudges that — again — do not involve me), and thank regular readers for their continued participation.

    I also thank Kiersten for formalizing the anti-outing policy for the blog.

    Just one question (in jest)… Can we call it “the klaus rule”?

  20. Nice work, Jesse. I think you’ve just contributed to the literature on “how blogs function as social communities.” Great topic for a cyber-sociology book, don’t you think?

    As for the temperament issue, I think there is a gender factor that needs recognition. Fact is, women are not allowed the same range of assertive or directorial behavior as men. This bias still exists on every level. I am always skeptical when people ascribe to women (particularly women in power) the attribute of being moody or temperamental. I do not believe men in positions of power are held to the same standard.

  21. Kiersten,
    I definitely agree about the gender thing. I have seen mayors, governors, etc. who are both moody and temperamental and it isn’t as big as an issue if they are male.

  22. Kiersten and Rachel:

    If you’d asked me in 2006 about Nap’s temperament, I would have also termed it “not ready for the Mayor’s office.” In his case, it’s because he’s impulsive and single-minded when a politically expedient solution presents itself. I’ve said as much on several occasions — see comments #20 and 28 on this thread:

    Sorry, but I won’t risk another storm by trying to discuss his former Dem opponent’s temperament — I think there’s been enough space dedicated to that topic already. Suffice to say, I intended no gender-specific connotations in my previous statements, although I do agree that women, generally, are unfairly criticized for being “shrill” or “pushy” when men would be described as “driven” or “aggressive.”

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