About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dunkin' Donut Drive Thru Approved on Hellertown Road

The Carlos Brothers are hungry
In a close, 3-2 vote, Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board has approved a drive-through window for a franchise planned along the west side of busy Hellertown Road. During their December 17 meeting, Attorney Jim Preston successfully pressed the case for owner Dhruv Acharya. He owns another Dunkin' Donuts in Bangor, and manages three more of these popular franchises in the Poconos.

The Dunkin' Donuts franchise, located on a 10,095 sq ft lot, is located in the CL Commercial Zoning District, which permits restaurants. But Acharya needed a variance for the drive-through window. The business will be located north of the Route 78 exit onto Hellertown Road, which runs between South Bethlehem and Hellertown and is also known as Route 412. It is almost directly across the street from Commerce Center Boulevard.

Hellertown Road is undergoing a major expansion by PennDot, which is expected to continue until 2016,  The road is being widened from two to four lanes, with five lanes in places. It is also expected that there will be a medial divider separating north and south bound traffic.

Acharya and his engineer, Brian Gasda of Lehigh Engineering, both told zoners that they expect that it will be a divided highway, and they will be limited to customers coming south from South Bethlehem. They are proposing a lane that circles the proposed 2,200 sq ft building, like most drive through establishments. There will also be a separate bypass lane and 22 parking spots, well beyond the nine required.  They also plan to place buffers along the northern and southern sides of the property for the privacy of neighbors.

Only one of those neighbors was at the hearing. Francisco Sousa, who lives next door, actually has a driveway easement along this property. It had only been discovered the day before the hearing. But so long as his own parking arrangements are guaranteed, "I'm all for it."

Linda Shay Gardner worries that cars waiting for coffee at the drive through will trickle out along Hellertown Road. Acharya told her that is unlikely because their goal is always to provide service within two minutes. He pointed out that the Dunkin' Donuts standard is 150 seconds.

Gardner, however, pointed to a franchise on Schoenersville Road where the cars do stack out and only the highway. "That's dangerous," she observed, and added it would be dangerous along Hellertown Road as well.

Michael Santanasto questioned Acharya about the lighting on the drive through order sign, noting it is only 100' away from someone's home. He was told there would be no light pollution.

Bill Fitzpatrick and Jim Schantz had questions about the hours.  They were told the Donut shop may open as early as 3 am, but will be open less than 24 hours per day. They ultimately moved to approve the application, conditioned upon a thorough review by the Planning Commission. Chairman Gus Loupos joined them, but Gardner and Santanasto remained opposed.

The remaining hearings were far less controversial.

JoAnne Matthews was granted a special exception to establish an art therapy counseling office for children at her home on 1569 Kadel Drive. She explained that children who are reluctant to speak out about what bothers them can often express themselves much better by drawing.

Finally, Alfredo Carlos was granted a dimensional variance to construct a carport for his property at 1532 Siegfried Street. His brother Mario, who was with him, will do the work.

Carlos explained that nearly everyone else in his neighborhood has a carport, and his wife and daughter have been after him to build one. Last winter, he had to get up at 3 am to shovel his wife and daughter out, and his wife cries about the lack of a carport. So he paid the $250 to apply for a special exception.

"Happy wife, happy husband," he argued.

The Board quickly and unanimously granted relief.

"Do you want me to call your wife and tell her you got it?" asked Chairman Gus Loupos.

"Yes," answered Alfredo, "I'm hungry."


Anonymous said...

You are turning out to be an excellent reporter Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a great board and the people there are always interesting. I think these boards are a pulse on the heartbeat of a community.

Anonymous said...

Rt 378 & Hellertown Rd don't meet. Rt 378 & 412 do meet at Wyandotte & W 4th Street in South Bethlehem. Perhaps you mean 78?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I do and have corrected my post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, have you ever gone to any of the other board or authorities meetings in Bethlehem? Are they filled with political hacks and how much do they get paid.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have. Most of the positions are volunteers, and those who do get paid don't get enough to pay for gas. I don't know who you are trying to vilify with that sweeping shot, but only make yourself look like the typical anonymous troll.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. They should have checked out his drive thru in Bangor first. It is the worst. Cars stacked up all the time, too narrow, bad building to pit it in.

Al Bernotas said...

It was encouraging to see a 3-2 vote. Some thinking is going on here, a welcome improvement.