There won’t be a Dunkin’ Donuts in Wickford, at least for now. The North Kingstown Zoning Board of Review denied an application that would have brought a Dunkin’ Donuts to the corner of Phillips Street and Tower Hill Road. Thirteen residents of the more than 50 present at Tuesday night’s meeting vehemently spoke out against the project.
The applicants, Theresa Amaral and Robert and David Batista, were seeking to build a 3,000 sq. ft. building on the half-acre lot. Half the building would be a Dunkin’ Donuts (without drive-through service) while the other half would be a business to be determined.
Residents and members of both the zoning board and North Kingstown Planning Commission (which gave the project an unfavorable recommendation in August) all agreed that the already hectic intersection outside Wickford Village was busy enough and another business, including a Dunkin’, would be detrimental to traffic and pose more safety issues.
“Dunkin’ Donuts looks to service its customers quickly,” said Kim Rademacher of Collation Circle. “A lot of people who go in there are on their way to somewhere else and are not thinking to look for pedestrians.”
One resident told the board she was involved in a fender bender at the intersection after letting a middle school student use the crosswalk. Another presented a study by the state that listed the Phillips Street/Ten Rod Road/Tower Hill Road intersection as the ninth most expensive intersection in Rhode Island in terms of accidents.
“It’s called ‘Collision Corner’ and it’s not called that for nothing,” said resident Bill Gannon of Tower Hill Road.
North Kingstown Police Chief Thomas Mulligan was also among the speakers who had serious reservations about the proposed Dunkin’. Mulligan stated that the lot area is too small and that the proposed curb cuts leading into the parking lot would be too close together. During his testimony, Mulligan joked that “officers know it’s a good spot to write a ticket if you have to.”
Though the applicants stated that the majority of the proposed doughnut shop’s business would be in the morning before 11 a.m., many residents and members of the board questioned whether that would be the case at this location. The intersection is within walking distance of two schools – Wickford Middle School and North Kingstown High School.
“The coffee shop is something that draws traffic that’s already in the area to begin with,” said Matt Callaghan, attorney for the applicants. “You’re not creating something that’s going to add additional traffic.”
Residents at the meeting stated that traffic at the intersection is bad enough, with motorists using the driveway at Wickford Middle School as a cut-through. One resident told the board that she was almost hit by a driver traveling in the wrong direction on Preston Drive (a one-way street) who was trying to avoid the traffic at the intersection.
As many residents pointed out, there are several coffee shops in the area, including Jitters Café, Updike’s Newtowne Coffee, Honey Dew Donuts and another Dunkin’ Donuts farther up Ten Rod Road near Home Depot. Next year, . For many, Dunkin’ Donuts did not fit with the look and feel of Wickford.
“Aesthetically I can’t imagine a Dunkin’ Donuts at this corner, at the gateway of a pristine and historic village,” said one Wickford resident.
The board unanimously denied the application, citing the unfavorable recommendation from the planning commission and the overwhelming public testimony.