10112021 MEDFORD DUNKIN DONUTS SITE

The now-closed PNC Bank on the property at Tuckerton and Taunton roads would be demolished to make way for a Dunkin' Donuts. However, the Medford zoning board rejected the proposal because, in part, it stated the site is too small for the developer's plans. 

A Medford zoning board resolution formally blocking a drive-through Dunkin' Donuts states that the former PNC Bank site is a bad choice because it is a "significantly undersized" lot of 0.898 acres and also at the corner of a "heavily traffic-congested intersection."

The DePetris Family Associates 2 LLC proposal to build at Tuckerton and Taunton roads was denied by the board in 2019, but ordered returned to the board by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, in May. Last month, the Zoning Board of Adjustment again denied the use variance in a 7-0 vote.

In the September 30 board resolution, a Township engineer said the use classifications in the proposal should have included the 1,800-square-foot Dunkin' with a drive-through lane, a 2,000-square-foot restaurant and a 1,100-square-foot retail store. Instead, the engineer stated, the use classifications were for a "generic and lesser-traffic-generating" 4,900-square-foot shopping center.

"The zoning board finds and concludes that the property, located at the corner of a heavily traffic-congested intersection, and significantly undersized at 0.898 acres, is not particularly suitable for three retail uses, including a Dunkin' Donuts with drive-through service," according to the resolution.

Lawyer Robert S. Baranowski Jr., of the Hyland Levin Shapiro law firm in Marlton, represents the developer in the application and last week told 70and73.com that the DePetris family is reviewing its options. He said he could not comment beyond that.

A traffic study for DePetris by Shropshire Associates LLC of Atco "is deficient because it does not accurately project traffic counts and parking requirements" for the Dunkin', the sandwich shop restaurant and a retail tenant, according to the board's resolution.

DePetris had amended its application to include a sign prohibiting left-turn exits onto Taunton Road during the peak 7 to 9 a.m. hours. The developer also reduced the total retail space to 4,900 square feet from 6,379 square feet, parking reduced to 25 spaces from 29 and total queueing for the drive-through increased to 11 from 9, with vehicles wrapping around three sides of the building, according to the resolution.

However, the board questioned the safety of left turns into and out of the site from Taunton Road. "The left-turn onto Taunton Road (from the property) would be inefficient and unsafe during both the AM and PM peak hours," according to the resolution.

"In response to these concerns, (Shropshire engineer Nathan) Mosley testified that southbound vehicles on Taunton would routinely extend a 'courtesy gap' during red lights to allow patrons to make the left turns into and out of the shopping center from Taunton Road," the resolution stated. "Board members expressed cynicism to this response, emphasizing that the three southbound lanes of tired commuters are unlikely to uniformly cooperate to extend 'courtesy queue' gaps to opposing traffic during extended periods of traffic congestion."

Since 1992, the resolution noted, fast-food restaurants have been "an expressly prohibited use" in the Community Commercial Zoning District.  In addition, drive-through restaurants are required by Medford to be on a minimum 2½-acre lot and the DePetris lot was less than one acre, the resolution stated.

"The proposed driveway entrance on Taunton Road, sited only 150 feet from the highly trafficked traffic signal intersection of Tuckerton/Taunton Road is a consequence of the undersized nature of the parcel," the board resolution states.

» READ MORE: Same answer, second time: Medford zoning board says 'no' to Dunkin'.