, Salem, MA


June 4, 2014

Letter: Ipswich is too special for a drive-thru

To the editor:

Why does it seem that we never appreciate where we live is half as much as those who visit? Long before I moved to Ipswich, I grew up in Southern California. When friends from the Midwest would visit, they would point at palm trees, fancy cars, famous people and tell me how lucky I was — I just never thought of those things as any big deal, and I still don’t.

Moving to Ipswich about 11 years ago, I was overwhelmed with the history of the place, its uniqueness — with 68 First Period houses, more than any other city or town in the United States, the endless open space protected from development, Crane Beach and the quintessential neighborliness of a New England village. And, it is that freshly viewed wonder of the historical significance of Ipswich that continues to motivate me whenever I consider changes to our town.

Currently, the Ipswich Zoning Board of Appeals is considering a variance application from the owner of the only formula fast-food establishment outside the central business district — at Lord Square, the current location the result of a previously approved variance. The out-of-town owner of this Dunkin’ Donuts franchise wants to open Ipswich to something that two-thirds of the citizens wisely rejected in 1999 — a drive-thru expansion of his business and the potential proliferation of drive-thru locations throughout the town.

The heavy increase in traffic anticipated by the addition of drive-thru service would be accompanied by excessive pollution from idling car emissions, as well as from trash in the area. Changes to the roadway in order to accommodate the drive-thru will increase traffic speeds through the square and cause greater risks to pedestrians and cyclists traversing the square.

Allowing the opening of Dunkin’ Donuts at Lord Square, surrounded by some of the oldest homes in America when the first variance was granted, was bad enough. Compounding the mistake with the addition of a drive-thru would only erode further the unique value of Ipswich’s historical heritage. In addition, increased traffic will exacerbate the damage done by vibration to the foundations of the largest collection of First Period homes in Ipswich.

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