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Town of Waukesha finds holes in Dunkin' Donuts' plan on Sunset Drive

Residents voice concerns over traffic, safety, drive-through at proposed shop

Feb. 20, 2013

After a somewhat interactive public hearing, the decision was not made rashly.

First, the Plan Commission and Town Board heard Dunkin' Donuts representatives gave a detailed presentation on the proposed shop on Sunset Drive in the Town of Waukesha.

Then they heard from passionate business owners and residents - most with objections and many sharing their concerns multiple times - on why the plan to add a 5,040 square-foot multi-tenant retail building, that includes a drive-through on the west end of the building, isn't the best option for that area.

For nearly an hour, the Town's Plan Commission and Town Board listened and ultimately recommended the plan needs updating to address these concerns. The Plan Commission told Dunkin' Donuts officials to return next month for another review.

Safety and traffic concerns as well as the drive-through were all concerns from people who spoke during the public hearing section at the start of last week's joint meeting.

The 1.08 acre parcel is within the former Kohl's development owned by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Waukesha County.

"My concerns are with the traffic flow and the congestion," said Jim Radke, owner of Le Caffé Bistro, which is directly west of the proposed Dunkin' Donuts on the corner of Sunset Drive and Prairie Avenue.

Radke spoke for more than 10 minutes and said he put a petition at his shop and it received more than 120 signatures opposing the Dunkin' Donuts for safety reasons.

John Clark, vice president of operations for Milwaukee Coffee Brewing Company doing business as Dunkin' Donuts, said the plan is to add a driveway on Prairie Avenue to give customers more options. But Radke wasn't convinced it would do that and that many customers going to other businesses in that area already use the Sunset entrance.

"The main entrance is going to be through Sunset Drive," Radke said. "We have several businesses that are in there. Now you got all this additional traffic coming through the same entrance way and the same exit with a drive through."

However, a representative from St. Vincent de Paul, located on Sunset Drive in the same area, welcomed the Dunkin' Donuts.

"St. Vincent de Paul is very positive of the development and it will bring in more traffic (for us) and we're somewhat excited about that and the second entrance would (eliminate) traffic through our parking lot," said Ken Petershack, of Equity Commercial Real Estate. "We look forward to having another entrance or exit on Prairie. As the adjacent property owner, we're very supportive of this development."

But the opposition heavily outweighed the support.

"Here you got the guy with a donut in one hand, the coffee in another, steering with his knee and here comes grandma," Radke said. "Accident waiting to happen. Way too much development, way too fast."

The space could hold four tenants and Dunkin' Donuts officials said 80 percent of the building is set to be leased.

When they heard about more tenants, residents were even more concerned that there will be more traffic problems when trying to get out of their driveways.

But Town Chairwoman Angie E. Van Scyoc told residents any user would have to come before the Town Board to get approval.

"They can't put anyone in without coming here first," Van Scyoc said.

Clark said 85 percent of Dunkin' Donuts' business is done by 9 a.m. weekdays and a little later on weekends.

Some residents were also skeptical because they thought the shop would be open 24 hours, but Clark said that is not in the plans.

Clark added it’s the company’s business model to have drive-thrus put in all future Dunkin’ Donuts.

“We have been very successful,” Clark said. “And that’s why we signed for seven more Dunkins in Wisconsin, because we know the model is going to work here.

"Because there is a large cost to buying in another territory, (Dunkin’ Donuts) would not invest that money if we didn’t see the financial stability and if they didn’t see that the model is working.”

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