SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

July 10, 2014

Our view: Ipswich Dunkin' Donuts proposal deserved a better hearing

Neighborhood opponents of a planned expansion of the Lords Square Dunkin’ Donuts in Ipswich likely sighed with relief when they learned the owner of the property was withdrawing his proposal.

For the time being, at least, nothing will change at the busy intersection of Route 1A and Linebrook Road. While that no doubt makes some residents happy, the “Defeat Dunkin’ at all cost” attitude displayed by many opponents should give the rest of the town pause. Healthy businesses — even the franchise operations sneered at during the doughnut shop debate — are as important to the future of Ipswich as the rows of First Period houses are to her past.

Some folks in Ipswich do not understand this fact. In the span of a few weeks, residents rejected extra spending on their schools and helped scuttle the expansion plans of a longtime business. The two issues are related.

Dunkin’ Donuts owner Roy Serpa wanted to knock down his current shop and two adjacent properties — a laundromat and a vacant retail and apartment building. A new doughnut shop with a drive-thru was to take its place, and the traffic island in the square would have been eliminated.

The drive-thru would have required a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the entire project needed approval from the Planning Board. It never got that far, as Serpa withdrew the project from consideration.

In a letter to town officials, Serpa said he believed “the project would not have overcome the objection to the drive-through.”

That may be true, and there is room for debate over what effect a drive-thru would have had on the busy intersection.

However, the opposition to the project was as much about a disdain for Dunkin’ Donuts and other franchise businesses as it was about traffic.

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