There was much debate among the board with two members initially opposing the application before the vote, saying it would have an impact on traffic and change the character of the surrounding area. The application’s approval needed at least four votes from the five-member committee.
“I don’t think it is good for the town,” said member Cathy Chadwick, noting other chains such as Starbucks might follow suit.
Glenn Gibbs, the town’s director of planning and development, explained that the decision has to be made based on the current bylaw, which allows such an establishment. He said a denial “would not stand a chance” against a legal challenge.
Ken Sternburg, who lives on County Road, said the Subway would have a negative impact on the existing restaurants. “And I think it would be a slap in the face of the character of Ipswich,” he said.
Not all residents, however, were opposed to the plan.
“I’ve seen Subways everywhere,” said Oakhurst Street resident Mary Pryor, noting visits to other countries. “I don’t think it will disturb the character of downtown.”
High Street resident Al Boynton, a member of the town’s Historical Commission, noted surrounding store fronts have been vacant for many years. He said any business has a right to open in town based on the rules.
“If there is a place that could use a Subway, this could be it,” he said. “This is an essential area of downtown.”
Daniel Fenderson, who will own and operate the Subway, said he thinks there is a good market for a Subway in the downtown. He said he is planning on moving to town and will run the business like any other small restaurant.
“I want to get to know everyone in town,” he said. “I’ll be the owner-operator on site. It isn’t going to be like a corporate business even though we are using the Subway name.”