New Starbucks Development Faces Scrutiny at Zoning Board Meeting

At a recent Bridgewater Zoning Board meeting, a new Starbucks development with a drive-thru window was the focal point of discussions, highlighting concerns over traffic implications, the need for multiple variances, and the operation’s impact on the surrounding area. The proposed project by Bridgew Realty 2 LLC has sparked debates around its necessity, with the board and public scrutinizing the impact on local traffic, the number of requested variances, and the site’s design elements.

The applicant’s presentation encompassed a detailed breakdown of the proposed site’s history, variances, and the future of the property, which includes plans for the former Hula Hands restaurant to become the Stone Tavern. The applicant’s team, consisting of various experts including a site plan design engineer, project architect, traffic engineer, and professional planner, provided testimony on the necessity of each variance. These included setbacks, impervious coverage, signage, and concerns raised over the number of variances required for the project.

The discussions were comprehensive, covering the ownership and maintenance responsibilities of the property, stormwater management, and the total acreage of the site. The board delved into the specifics of the Starbucks proposal, questioning the length of the drive-thru queue, the anticipated traffic impact, and the operational details like hours of operation and the need for security lighting.

Lizanne Kyle, a senior store manager at Starbucks, highlighted the property’s strategic location on Route 22 and its suitability for a drive-thru service. She cited the increased demand for such services post-pandemic and pointed out the operational benefits of a freestanding Starbucks building.

The safety concerns were significant, considering the implications of drive-thru queues extending onto Route 22, a high-speed traffic area. The possibility of implementing traffic control measures such as electronic gates or traffic lights was discussed to manage the flow of cars.

The board and public also expressed concerns regarding the property’s parking arrangement and the frequency of deliveries, which could affect traffic and congestion in the area. A member of the public, Tina Neighbor, highlighted issues related to drive-through wait times and the state regulations on idling. The meeting addressed the on-site parking layout for Starbucks, proposing 34 spaces where only 24 were required, and the addition of an EV charger in compliance with state code.

Further testimony included discussions on the project’s landscaping, with over 1,200 shrubs planned for the site to provide screening and buffer zones. The board took issue with the condition of the fence adjacent to a residential area and the visual screening for residents. Stormwater management was also a point of contention, with the site’s existing basins requiring modifications to meet current requirements.

The board’s attention to detail was evident in their review of variances relating to restaurant use with a drive-thru, lot coverage, and setbacks from different property lines.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Matthew Moench
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