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The site of the former AMF Saybrook Lanes, which closed in August 2014, may soon host an Agway and a Dunkin Donuts following Zoning Commission approval this month. (Photo by Aviva Luria/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The former site of the Old Saybrook bowling alley, 923 Boston Post Road, has received Zoning Commission (ZC) approval for an Agway and a Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through. The name of this future shopping plaza, around 3 1/2 acres in size, will be The Shops at Oyster River.
The site is located in the Shopping Center Business (B-2) District and also within the Coastal Area Management Zone (CAM). The latter designation required a special CAM application, which was reviewed by Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). To satisfy DEEP’s concerns, the developer, 923 Boston Post Rd., LLC, will maintain a “vegetated non-disturbance area” between the rear of the Agway and the Oyster River, as well as providing benches for the public to sit and enjoy the view of the Oyster River.
The ZC approved the project at its Oct. 15 meeting by a vote of 4 to 1. One sticking point involved signage: Zoning regulations for the B-2 District stipulate that only one free-standing sign is permitted per lot.
The sign visible from the road announcing Agway and Dunkin’ Donuts would constitute that one permitted sign, but as the Dunkin’ Donuts will have a drive-through, it will require an outdoor menu.
This resulted in a discussion at the ZC meeting as to whether the menu counted as a free-standing sign, thereby violating zoning regulations. Eventually, it was determined that the menu is not a free-standing sign, but an accessory of the drive-through, and thus permissible.
Old Saybrook currently has two Dunkin’ Donuts, one at 744 Boston Post Road at the town center and the other at the Spencer Plains Road and Boston Post Road intersection; neither has a drive-through. The 744 Boston Post Road business will be closed and relocated to the Oyster River development. While zoning regulations for the B-2 District prohibit drive-through restaurants, the applicant requested an exception for this specific site, which the ZC approved.
Another issue that faced the developer was the possibility that the ZC might require additional parking. The commission, however, determined that Agway and Dunkin’ Donuts will be able to share parking because their peak hours are different: presumably, Dunkin’ Donuts’ peak hours are earlier than those of Agway. (Dunkin’ Donuts usually opens at 5 a.m. and Agway, 8:30 a.m.) The fact that the Dunkin’ Donuts provides a drive-through would appear to ameliorate some of the parking requirements, as well.
The project will necessitate demolishing the bowling alley and constructing the Agway largely on the bowling alley’s footprint. The Agway will consist of a main building, a greenhouse, and several outdoor retail display areas for a total square footage of 22,643. The Dunkin’ Donuts, which is planned at 2,277 square feet, will be located toward the front of the property.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that this would be Old Saybrook's third Dunkin' Donuts; the franchise owner has since informed Zip06.com/Harbor News that the 744 Boston Post Road location will be relocated to Oyster River.
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