‘Death by Delay’ for Dunkin’?
Last month, in the continuing saga of Kenny Elmes and his plan to turn his three-bay garage into a Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through, Elmes and his team had a 5-page report and a list of 35 points he needed to address. The points were raised by Robert Cameron, an adviser to the Planning Board.
But in the meantime, Cameron gave Elmes an additional 78 items he also needed to address at Tuesday night’s Planning Board meeting.
Representing the Elmeses were Architect Ron Lezott of GK&A and James Garofalo of Tim Miller Associates Inc.
Chairman Joseph Barbaro opened the meeting and gave Elmes an opportunity to give an opening statement. Elmes then gave a heartfelt, impassioned plea and said in part, “I cannot stay in business. It’s not what it used to be; no matter what, the car repair shop is not going to be there. I’m spending my children’s college fund… you are literally driving me to bankruptcy for no reason. I have been a good neighbor.”
Barbaro then stated that planners would not go over all the points Cameron had but would “get to the heart of the matter,” the traffic study.
Cameron was concerned about the drive-through queue and the traffic it would generate on Route 9D/Chestnut.
Planners then hashed out the traffic issue at length.
After much discourse, it was then that senior planner Parge Sgro spoke up and suggested that Elmes try to compromise and eliminate the drive- through window “for now and let’s see how it goes.” He then went on to state his fears for the future of the village because of pending development, including a future Butterfield development, the expansion of Foodtown and Scenic Hudson’s project at the West Point Foundry site.
“I don’t think we can resolve it,” Sgro said. “We can eliminate the drive-through; you may lose a little bit of business, but we are not going to put you out of business.”
Barbaro proposed a two-step plan where Elmes would get approved for the Dunkin’ Donuts, and wait to see how things went as far as traffic and parking. Later, Elmes could seek approval for the drive-through window.
He then asked the other planners for their thoughts. It was clear that if a vote were taken then, Elmes would not get approval.
Planner Dick Weissbrod was not opposed to the drivethrough but wanted environmental issues addressed, such as noise reduction.
Barbaro wanted to plan another meeting where Cameron could look at the environmental impact report.
Sgro made a motion for a public hearing and Weissbrod seconded, with planners Jimmy Zuehl and Arne Saari abstaining. Barbaro voted no, and the motion failed.
Barbaro asked for another meeting where Cameron could address the environmental report that Lezott, Elmes’ architect, had presented. That would give the board time to legally declare itself lead agency over the project. Elmes, frustrated with the delay and the mounting costs, spoke up: “We filed that four months ago.”
His wife Fran added, “The building season is going.”
Kenny said, “It’s unreasonable, it’s a year-long project…I got three kids in college, it’s not like it’s a joke; it’s not funny anymore...”
Elmes pressed Barbaro: “Why don’t you schedule a public hearing?” he asked.
“It seems quite ridiculous,” Fran Elmes said. “So far, your inclination is no. We hear you saying with a drive-through we are not going to approve this. Why should we spend another penny doing this, if your inclination is no, and Dunkin’ Donuts does not want this site without a drive-through?”
Kenny Elmes added: “This is irrational…”
Fran Elmes summed up: “This is death by delay. ”
After the meeting Fran said she would be contacting her lawyer Wednesday morning.
The topic also has drawn widespread interest elsewhere. Outside of the Cold Spring Post Office on Monday morning, a news crew from News 12 Westchester set up camp as reporter Kerry Donovan asked residents the question of the day, “Would it be OK with you if the current building would be repurposed as a Dunkin’ Donuts?” The query garnered varied responses.