Dunkin’ requests Guilderland run with drive-through proposal; more self-storage proposed for Route 20

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

The Dunkin’ Donuts in Star Plaza on Route 20 in Guilderland sits on just half-an-acre of land. It was built in 2001 without a drive-through. Now, its owners are looking to install one. ​

GUILDERLAND — Dunkin’ Donuts at Star Plaza wants a drive-through and, further east on Route 20, A-Metro Self-Storage wants to expand.

Dunkin’, which officially dropped “Donuts” from its brand name in 2018, has weathered the pandemic in large part due to its drive-throughs.

In Guilderland, the Dunkin’ in Star Plaza on Route 20 is rarity — a suburban shop without a drive-through. It’s now looking to change that. 

An application from Westside Donut Ventures, the limited-liability corporation that owns the Star Plaza Dunkin’ Donuts, was recently referred by the zoning board to the planning board for a site-plan review. 

At its Jan. 27 meeting, the planning board was presented with a proposal to install a drive-through lane, associated menu board, and drive-through window, on its existing building. 

“It’s a tight site,” Chairman Stephen Feeney said of the half-acre site. “I think we have some real [traffic] circulation concerns,” but the current drive-through proposal is an improvement from what was offered 20 years ago, when the shop was first built.

The town engineer in 2001 said the proposed traffic layout had a “high probability for traffic accidents,” according to Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik’s memo to the board.  “In general,” Kovalchik’s memo states, “it is likely that the proposed [2001] layout will make this area of the plaza more confusing and hazardous to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

“Based on awkward traffic movements the drive-through would create and the traffic hazard the drive-through would create,” the memo to the board says,  the 2001 planning board did not recommend the site plan review to the zoning board.

Steve Wilson of Bohler Engineering, speaking on behalf of the Westside Donut Ventures, said that the Star Plaza shop needed a drive-through added. He said that a typical Dunkin’ Donuts does 75 percent of its business by drive-through.

Westside is proposing modified circulation on the site, Wilson said, which includes converting the circulation on the drive-through side of the building from two-way to one-way.

The length of the drive-through line was among the first questions from the town, Wilson said, answering that a typical Dunkin’ drive-through queue had between five and 10 cars at its busiest period. Wilson said the queue designed for Star Plaza can accommodate about nine to 10 cars. 

“So this should be sufficient to accommodate a typical busy queue during an a.m. peak, which is their busiest time of the day,” he said.

Asked about drive-through back-up, Wilson said the average drive-through visit at a Dunkin’ Donuts is about 150 seconds, two-and-a-half minutes.

The board wanted to have an engineer offer some direction on the proposal. 

Feeney asked if an engineer had been designated, and Kovalchick said one had but “we were going to wait until after this meeting to see if there’s anything specific from the board, that this board wanted to have addressed, that we would include in the scope for the [town-designated engineer].”

Feeney said, “The scope’s pretty clear; it’s a circulation issue.”


A-Metro Self Storage on Route 20

The board at its Jan. 27 meeting also approved a site plan for A-Metro Self Storage, which had been sent by the zoning board for a recommendation.

The former Governors Motor Inn site, further east on Route 20 in Guilderland, is set to house self-storage units as well.

 A-Metro Self Storage has 10.6 acres of land at 4774 Western Turnpike on which seven buildings already sit. 

The company is proposing to construct:

— Three climate-controlled self-storage buildings; one would be 6,100 square feet while the other two would be 10,075 square feet;

— One 8,700-square-foot drive-up self-storage building;

— Two recreational vehicle (RV) storage canopies with each canopy covering 12 stalls; and

— The additional pavement, lighting, and stormwater management areas that accompany the new buildings.

 A-Metro also has a variance application before the zoning board.

The self-storage company is requesting that it not have to install sprinklers in the new buildings; that the 100-foot buffer required between an industrial and residential district be reduced; and that the six-foot-high screening required between industrial and residential districts be reduced.

The board looked at the proposal at its Dec. 9 meeting and, since then, there had been “significant” changes made — such as preserving the tree line and relocating the RV canopies — which made the board “comfortable” making the site-plan recommendation to the zoning board.

Last fall, a mid-19th-Century farmhouse at 4773 Western Turnpike went up in flames. 


Old State Road subdivision

The public hearing for a subdivision on Old State Road to accommodate 58 single-family homes was kept open after a nearby resident brought to the board’s attention that the notice he had received did not contain all the information needed to call into the meeting to comment. 

Planning board meetings are being held remotely due to pandemic restrictions.

The 58-lot subdivision stretches over two parcels, together consisting of approximately 100 acres of land located in a residential single-family zoning district. About 34 acres of the site are to be permanently protected open space.

 Three of the lots will be directly accessible from Fuller Station Road while the remaining 55 will be accessed from a new town road within the subdivision; the new town road will be accessible from Fuller Station and Old State roads.

The design of the 58-lot subdivision is being proposed under the town’s cluster subdivision code requirements — with minimum lot sizes of 16,000 square feet and minimum frontage. The initial lot-size proposals were for 20,000 square feet with 100 feet of minimum frontage. About half of the proposed lots are now smaller than when they were proposed in June 2020.

JTR Realty presented the development as a concept five years ago this month, applied in November 2017, and was before the board in June of last year with an update on the project. Previously, JTR Realty appeared on the board’s agenda in April 2017, when the board expressed concerns about how water and sewer lines would be brought to the site.

 The mailing that went out to nearby homeowners notifying them of the public hearing on Jan. 27 had the call-in number and passcode to get into the meeting but the notice did not have the meeting identification number. 

The official agenda posted on the town website had all the information needed to call into the public hearing, Kovalchick said.

However, public notice that was published in the newspaper did not have the meeting identification number either.

Feeney said, “That’s conceivably an issue, correct?”

To which Kovalchick responded, “OK.”

Feeney then said, “OK? If that was the legal notice, I mean the other stuff — you don’t have to send a mailing to people, [but] we do; we don’t have to post all the information that we do on the site, [but] we certainly do and we try, but the public-hearing notice has to be accurate.”

It was also likely that a public hearing for a four-lot minor subdivision at 2819 West Old State Road would have to be re-noticed as well because its notice did not have the complete information needed to call in and comment on the proposal. 

More Guilderland News

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  • Rachel Anderson, who had worked as Guilderland High School’s director of math, science, and technology, was appointed in June to the $125,000-a-year post of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

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