Wareham Zoning Board of Appeals waits on Wendy's approval pending Town Meeting vote

By Matthew Bernat | Jan 24, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Jay Donegan, owner of the development firm J. Donegan Co. , listens as the Zoning Board of Appeals discusses his request to build a Wendy's.

The Zoning Board of Appeals said “wait and see” to a developer seeking to build a Wendy’s with a drive-thru at the intersection of Tobey Road and Cranberry Highway.

On Jan. 24, the board met with representatives from the town’s newest shopping center, Wareham Marketplace. Located at the corner of Tobey Road and Cranberry Highway, the center opened in early November and is currently home to an ALDI supermarket and AutoZone.

Representatives from the J. Donegan Company, a Virginia-based development firm, sought permission to include a drive-thru for a new tenant – a 2,400-square-foot Wendy’s restaurant. J. Donegan Company owner, Jay Donegan, and Matt Smith of Bohler Engineering appeared before the board with the request.

Sean Kelley of Vanasse & Associates, Inc. appeared as well to present the results of a recent traffic study. At a previous hearing, board members listed traffic as a major concern and wanted more information before making a decision.

Kelley said the study found the restaurant would not negatively affect traffic patterns. An initial study was done two years ago based on plans that included more space for retail shops.

Kelley said that study showed 208 cars were estimated to enter during a peak time in the evening and 248 cars during a peak time on Saturday. The new study, accounting for Wendy’s, estimated 232 cars for the evening peak and 297 cars during the Saturday peak.

“It’s a very low increase compared to what’s already there,” said Kelley.

While all board members agreed that the project was designed well, most said they didn’t want to reverse a policy that bans new drive-thrus in town.

Chair Nazih Elkallassi said approving an exemption would set a precedent, possibly making it easier for other developers to seek drive-thrus.

Elkallassi noted that voters at the April 23 Town Meeting will be asked to weigh in on an agenda item that, if approved, would favor drive-thrus.

He suggested that Donegan wait and see what happens then, saying it was likely voters would side with welcoming drive-thrus. If that happens, a special exemption would not be required from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Board member James Eacobacci said he favored granting an exemption had the board voted on it on Jan. 24. He said no one appeared at the public hearing against the drive-thru.

“Of the 22,000 people in town, zero showed up in opposition,” said Eacobacci. “If people were up in arms they would be here…and the room is empty.”

Donegan and Smith said they would be back before the board on May 9 seeking approval after Town Meeting voters have made a decision.

Comments (8)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jan 24, 2018 23:06

Seeing as nobody showed up for the public hearing against the Wendy’s exemption, wouldn’t it have made more sense to grant the exemption and leave the ban in place.  Even if it did set a precedent, they’d still be able to handle each request on a case by case basis.  Lifting the ban altogether may open the floodgates.

Posted by: felinesmom | Jan 25, 2018 09:31

If the ZBA had granted this exemption, you can bet McD's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, etc would be at the next meeting seeking an exemption for themselves. A case by case basis leaves the town open to legal action from the business that was denied and we all know they have much deeper pockets than Wareham.  The drive thru ban was enacted for a reason.  What was that reason?  What has changed that this by-law needs to be reconsidered?  I don't think that one request should be enough to bring on all the work and expense to taxpayers of putting an item on the warrent of a town meeting.  Get ready for the entire Cran Highway to look like Rt 1 Saugus & Lynn style.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jan 25, 2018 10:15

To expect fast food restaurants, that nearly every town has to not have drive thru is anti business. The problem is NOT the drive thru widow, Its poor que line design. If a business can demonstrate that the que line is sufficient to handle peak line volumes then there is no excuse to deny. The only que line I have seen as a problem in town is the Dunkins on main Street.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jan 25, 2018 14:01

I'm still waiting for this paper to do a real story on the history of the ban, accidents and problems associated with this issue. What good is traffic study in winter?  However everyone needs to respond to the February 5, 2018, "Community Development Strategy Meeting: This is your opportunity to tell us what you think the Town needs to focus on in the year(s) ahead. What should be the community priorities for Wareham?" http://www.wareham.ma.us/home/news/community-development-strategy-meeting

Posted by: desertsky | Jan 27, 2018 07:46

We all get why the bans were enacted in the first place, and we probably should re-examine the ban now, seven years later. I agree with Spherebreaker, the problem is not the drive thru's but the idiotic way some of the traffic patterns were developed. Theres tons of space in front of walmart and to be short sighted and turn down businesses that want to come in and PAY TAXES is ridiculous. Who really gives a care that theres a drive thru in an area with hundreds of stupid drivers already??? Seriously, nobody is going to know the difference that it's there. Wareham has much bigger issues to address.

Posted by: Uptohere | Jan 27, 2018 13:21

I care that's who and I'm sure the drivers that have to be on guard for idiots that can't seem to travel 28 without being slammed into by bad inattentive drivers care. I'm sure they have no problem scueing the numbers to make that corner a great place to drive into traffic. We have seen how polls work when you want to win at all costs. I'm for business and I'm for Wendy's. I AM NOT for another stretch of 28 being a nasty peice of eye soar.

Posted by: desertsky | Jan 28, 2018 08:22

Nobody needs to enter or exit onto 28. That parking lot is huge and there is PLENTY of room for the entire parking lot of  a proposed Wendy's to fit WITHIN the large lot around walmart. You're making a mountain out of a molehill.

Posted by: barnstorm | Jan 28, 2018 16:52

It's the perfect location and timing for a drive-thru off of Cran/.28. Weed is going to be flowing free now, and the stoners need another place where they can satisfy the hunger for munchies without getting out of their vehicles. Impaired weed smoking drivers........guaranteed slow and careful maneuvering through that drive-thru. Going to put a big smile on their faces. Great for business also.....can't wait!

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