Project concerns addressed through compromise
When complaining neighbors and a reasonable developer come together, good things can happen.
That's the case with the proposed Dunkin' Donuts at 1419 Erie Blvd. in Schenectady.
The developer's original proposal would have put a drive-through window only a few feet from a neighbor's yard and would have positioned the speaker for takeout orders so it could be heard far beyond the business. Those speakers can be really loud, as can music blaring from the cars of customers waiting on line for their orders.
In response to these complaints, developer David Fusco has modified his plans in a way that he can operate his business profitably without unduly annoying the neighbors.
The drive-through will be relocated under the new plan so it is 15 feet from adjoining properties instead of three, shielded with vegetation, a fence, and the building itself. The speaker will be redirected so it's not blaring in neighbors' windows. And the developer has agreed to limit the hours of the drive-through so there won't be cars running through all night long.
Neighbors have also expressed concerns about noise and exhaust smell from the business, which includes a gas station. The proposed development is zoned for commercial use on a major road, Erie Boulevard. So neighbors off East Front Street had no expectation that the property would not see commercial traffic.
But they certainly had an expectation for a project that didn't go out of its way to disrupt their lives.
Their other concerns should be mitigated to a degree when the drive-through closes in the evening. The proposal also now includes townhouses in the back of the property, further mitigating noise and fumes along Front Street.
The neighbors had legitimate concerns, and they aired them. The developer, to his credit, has come up with a reasonable compromise for the Zoning Board of Appeals to consider in June.