SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 11, 2013

Dunkin' drive-thru proposed in Ipswich

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — IPSWICH — The franchise owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts in Lord Square are hoping to redevelop three properties and add a drive-thru window to the popular doughnut shop.

The proposal calls for knocking down the current Dunkin’ Donuts building and two adjacent properties, 2 and 4 Lord Square. These properties are currently a laundromat and a vacant retail and apartment building. Lord Square is a tricky intersection of Central, Linebrook, High, Short and Liberty streets.

The drive-thru would require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals because it is not allowed on that property, according to Planning Director Glenn Gibbs. The entire project would require Planning Board approval.

Dinart and Roy Serpa, the brothers who own the franchise and the properties, said their plans are preliminary and nothing has been filed with the Planning Board.

Several members of the Planning Board met with the Serpas on Thursday, however, to discuss the proposal. Police Chief Paul Nikas and other town officials were in attendance. Gibbs said there have been three informal meetings on the proposal.

The brothers want to build two new commercial buildings on the three lots, with the Dunkin’ Donuts being relocated to land near the current laundromat. Plans show the proposed drive-thru wrapping around the back of the property and exiting near Linebrook Road. A left-turn-only lane onto the property from the square and several other roadway improvements are being proposed as part of the plan.

The second building would have one or two retail spaces and most likely the laundromat, Roy Serpa said. A second entrance would be located on High Street.

Between the three properties, there are now four different driveways. The new plan would cut that to two — one off Lord Square itself and the other on High Street.

“We have a unique opportunity to beautify that corner,” Roy Serpa said. “It will really create two new buildings that would fit the character of the town.”

Traffic backups and pedestrian safety were the main issues addressed at the round-table discussion Thursday, which was open to the public. Concerns were raised about cars queuing up at Prime gas station across the street.

“There are things that can be done to make it palatable and might improve the intersection,” Gibbs said. The plans already have been revised several times to meet the unique configuration of the intersection.

“We thought it was an improvement over what we’ve seen before,” he said. “But we identified several things that should be looked at as possible further revisions.”

Heidi Paek, co-chairwoman of the Planning Road, emphasized the need for pedestrian safety and proper placement of crosswalks.

The plans were presented by Rob Woodland, president of Woodland Design Group.

“Dinart has been willing to take a look at modifying the existing roadway system and trying to address some of the issues,” he said.

Roy Serpa said the plans could actually improve traffic flow in the area. A drive-thru would fulfill a need in town, he said.

“It is convenient for mothers and parents, elderly and the handicapped,” he said.

Gibbs agreed that traffic could be improved with changes, saying there are many current traffic issues at Dunkin’ Donuts, including cars backing out of the parking lot into the street.

The building at 4 Lord Square was built in 1865 and once served as the town’s firehouse. Gibbs said there shouldn’t be any historical restriction on tearing the building down.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.