Drive-through lane at center of Starbucks debate

Board asks if developer would still build new Starbucks without a drive-through lane

By Josh Bickford
Posted 1/10/20

There were plenty of questions surrounding the proposed construction of a new Starbucks restaurant on County Road during Thursday night's Technical Review Committee meeting.

But no question …

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Drive-through lane at center of Starbucks debate

Board asks if developer would still build new Starbucks without a drive-through lane

Posted

There were plenty of questions surrounding the proposed construction of a new Starbucks restaurant on County Road during Thursday night's Technical Review Committee meeting.

But no question appeared to be more crucial than one asked by property abutter Larry Trim. 

Mr. Trim, who is a former member of the planning board and TRC, directed members of the TRC to read Barrington's zoning ordinance 200-90, which regulates drive-through lanes.

The project developers have, so far, included a drive-through lane with their plans to construct a new Starbucks on the old BP gas station property. 

Mr. Trim said zoning ordinance 200-90 B. states, in part, that "Traffic exiting from a drive-through facility shall not exit the parcel onto County Road."

But that's exactly what the developers' plans call for. 

Mr. Trim told members of the TRC that he did not see how the developers could get past that hurdle with their current plan.

Robert Stillings, the chairman of the TRC, agreed. 

"I don't know how they can fix that, Larry," Mr. Stillings said. 

The sketch detailing the proposed restaurant shows traffic entering from and exiting onto County Road. The developers had argued that traffic from the drive-through lane would not exit onto County Road, but rather into the Starbucks property. Then vehicles exiting the property pulled out onto County Road.

Mr. Trim said zoning ordinance 200-90 B states that traffic exiting from a drive-through "facility" shall not exit "the parcel" onto County Road. 

Some members of the TRC, including Noah Szosz, asked the developers if their client would still be interested in building a Starbucks without a drive-through lane on the County Road property. 

"I think this drive-through is the root of the problem," said Mr. Szosz, adding that the drive-through feature will likely attract more people from out of town to visit this Starbucks. 

Members of the development team, including Ken Caputo, said they were not sure if Starbucks would still be interested in opening the restaurant on County Road if they were denied the drive-through lane. They said Starbucks might remain interested, but officials may also abandon the plan altogether. 

Following the discussion, members of the TRC made a motion requesting the developers address a number of issues identified by the committee and residents. Included on the list of issues was a request for a peer review of how the proposal will be impacted by zoning ordinance 200-90 B restricting drive-through lanes; a sound/noise study to be completed; amend the business's signs, which currently violate the town's regulations; review the landscape plan for the property; and add abutting homes to the overview plans so that officials can clearly see how close the homes will be to the proposed drive-through menu and order board. 

The motion carried, 5-0.

Editor's note: It was previously reported that Larry Trim, who commented at a recent Technical Review Committee meeting, was a member of the planning board. In fact, Mr. Trim resigned from the planning board. He was also a longtime member of the TRC but resigned from that board also. Mr. Trim was speaking as an abutter to the proposed Starbucks. 

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