FAIR LAWN - A planner for a drive-thru Dunkin' Donuts proposed for the northeast corner of Berdan Avenue and River Road told the Zoning Board of Adjustment Aug. 10 that the site is “particularly suited” for its use as a drive-thru fast food restaurant.  

A decision on the application was postponed to the Aug. 28 meeting.

Applicant planner Roger DeNiscia told approximately 30 residents that the 12-01 River Road site, formerly a drive-thru bank, had ample setbacks from River Road and Berdan Avenue, small building size, and 360-degree circulation around the site and “was designed intentionally as a drive-thru… (and) would be difficult to adapt to anything besides a drive-thru.”

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DeNiscia said other local drive-thru businesses in town include CVS, Walgreens, Columbia Savings Bank and Bank of America.

In June, applicant attorney Edward Trawinski noted that the former bank site had been unused for approximately eight years.  Before the bank, he said the site was used by a gas station.

The third hearing for MO Donuts, Inc.’s application to construct a Dunkin' Donuts’ drive-thru restaurant featured testimony from the applicant’s traffic engineer and planner. Fast-food and drive-thru restaurants are not permitted in the site’s current B-4 zone and a use variance is required. Additional variances are required for proposed site signs, sign height, and a replacement sign setback from curb.

The applicant is proposing to use the existing building footprint on site, with an addition of 154 square feet for a refrigeration unit.  

Applicant traffic engineer Douglas Polyniak of Dolan & Dean Consulting Engineers LLC, said the revised site plan will only have one driveway to enter or leave along River Road. He said up to 10 vehicles can be “queued” on site “and that’s more than substantial for similar facilities.”

Polyniak said the revised site plan includes 11 perpendicular parking spaces, and is projected to generate 90 vehicles visiting per hour during peak periods, approximately 6-9 a.m.  

He said the existing Dunkin' Donuts diagonally across on River Road and owned by the applicant, generates 79 vehicle visits per hour during peak periods. This would be closed if the proposed drive-thru is approved and built.

Zoning Board member James Lowenstein questioned pedestrian safety around the Berdan Avenue and River Road driveways and was assured by Polyniak that a crosswalk would be installed to facilitate pedestrian access.

Polyniak said Dunkin' Donuts does 60 percent of daily business between 6-9 a.m.Under questioning, he told Borough Traffic Engineer Frank Miskovich that he did not think that motorists making a left-hand turn on Berdan Avenue into the site would back up traffic to River Road during peak periods.

Eight residents asked questions after Chairman Richard Seibel advised speakers to ask questions on testimony and not make statements or comments.

Berdan Avenue resident Bill Wilson questioned whether Polyniak observed the behavior of pedestrians, including school children, who might pass by and expressed concerns about pedestrian safety.

Several residents wondered about whether cars lined up for service would increase air pollution and were informed that the state anti-idling law does not apply to cars waiting in a fast-food drive-thru line. Several residents also wondered whether the applicant’s traffic engineer was aware that June 15 was an exam day at local schools and might impact traffic flow.

Bill Kodora of Berdan Avenue wondered why weekends were not included in the one-day site traffic study. Emily Cohen of Garden View Terrace asked whether the peak period vehicle counts took “projected growth” into account and was told they did not. Jennifer D’Angelo of 12th Street, asked if any study was done on accidents in the area and was told it was not.

Following three hours of testimony and questions, and a request for additional time by the applicant’s attorney, a consensus of board members voted to postpone questioning and a possible final decision until Aug. 28 due to the late hour and many additional questions for the planner, Seibel said.