The Dunkin' Donuts Dilemma
The Cold Spring Planning Board met Tuesday night to review the final points of a memo prepared by consulting engineer Robert Cameron of Putnam Engineering regarding the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts at the Elmesco garage and filling station.
Ron Lezott, the architect for Kenny and Fran Elmes, was on hand to answer any remaining questions that Cameron had.
It was difficult, at best, for the public to hear some of the comments, as the air conditioning is very loud at the VFW; and a few attendees cupped their ears to listen in.
Before the meeting began, resident and board confidante Judith Rose was in deep conversation with some planning board members over “fee-simple condos.” It appeared that Rose had the board’s full attention, as she has in the past—when members have been heard referring to her as “our expert”—although the PCN&R has confirmed that she is not a member of any Village Board nor is she a paid consultant.
Chair Joseph Barbaro opened the meeting and read a statement that was mailed to critically involved agencies to seek their opinion on the Planning Board declaring itself lead agency under State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR)
Barbaro read a reply from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that Elmes must now look into the potential impact his proposed project could have on endangered bald eagles and their habitats and the matter should be fully evaluated with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). For their part, the Elmeses looked amused over the whole eagle issue.
The memo also called for approval of plans for sewer extensions with the Putnam County Department of Health. Many remaining points were reviewed.
Perhaps tellingly, Barbaro said he did not want to get into the issue of the drive-through in detail until after the public hearing.
Dick Weissbrod raised the question of the color scheme of the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts, and asked if there were other options than the bright-pink-and-orange that is associated with the chain. When Lezott replied that headquarters would not consider it, Weissbrod raised his hands and said, “That’s a deal-breaker for me.” However it seemed the proposed color scheme is not much different from that at the current Elmesco, and may possibly be even more subdued.
Throughout, Dunkin’ Donuts neighbor and opponent Judith Rose whispered to the board as she took photos of the plans with her iPad.
After about two hours, Barbaro brought the meeting to a close and stated he didn’t feel there was any reason to meet until the public hearing.
Meanwhile, with all the time and money spent, will it have been an exercise in futility for the Elmeses?
Kenny stated, “I’m 55 years old, I just can’t work anymore, I have been in the community that I love for 25 years, I am a hard working man and no one gave me anything, I worked hard for it. I’ve helped people and have been fair and I have employed local kids for years. If just fifty people come against me at the public hearing, it’s over. I would encourage people with a sense of right and wrong come out to support me at the public hearing…” He paused and reflected, adding, “I would be elated.”
Fran Elmes said of the possibility of the board denying them a drive-through window: “We will have big problems, since the franchisee only wants the Dunkin' with the drive-thru. We may have to sell the service station at a giant financial loss to some pretty disreputable people who have approached us. It really is a mindless act if they do that…We are banking (hopefully not foolishly) on their seeing the sense in making this location a drive-through.”
Are they ready for the hearing? Fran said, “I guess so, although we are both dreading it. We are not confrontational people and we loath conflict. Hopefully we will have some legal assistance at that meeting to ward off some premeditated attacks. I don't know what more we can do or say to allay some of these people's concerns and to mitigate these imagined problems.”The public hearing is Tuesday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Cold Spring VFW Hall, on Kemble Avenue. The Planning Board will then have 30 days to render its decision.