FAIR HAVEN: DUNKIN’ DONUTS BREWS DEBATE

fair haven nj dunkin donuts breezewayPlans for the former Laird’s Stationery space in Fair Haven have borough residents abuzz. What’s Going On Here? Click ‘read more’ for the answer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

At issue is a proposal by the owner of the recently overhauled Acme shopping center on River Road to create a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in space vacated by Laird’s in August, 2016.

The coffee-and-doughnut spot would occupy 2,000 square feet on the north side of a newly created breezeway that connects the center’s front and rear parking lots. The Cellar liquor store recent moved into the southern side, next door to the borough post office.

Under the proposal, which is scheduled to go before the planning board next week, no variances are needed, according to filings at borough hall. The application requires only site plan review for a change of use from retail to food-serving.

According to a traffic study filed with the proposal, the shopping center typically has some 120 of its 250 parking spaces available during the Acme supermarket’s peak business hours of 4 to 6 p.m. The peak hours for Dunkin Donuts is 7 to 10 a.m., the report says.

The planning board has also commissioned a traffic study, which was not yet available Tuesday morning.

The plan has lit up a Fair Haven community page on Facebook with several hundred comments. One commenter said the Dunkin’ Donuts will attract “transient traffic,” and another said it’s unnecessary because Dunkin’ Donuts has a franchises nearby, including one within Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.

Others expressed concern about increased traffic; adverse economic impacts on “mom & pop” coffee shops; and an erosion of Fair Haven’s “charm” if a chain store takes root.

The planning board has slated the hearing for 7:15 p.m. January 15 at borough hall, its first meeting of 2019.

A proposed new Dunkin’ Donuts in Red Bank,  in a gas station at Shrewsbury Avenue and Newman Springs Road, has also raised concerns that it might be a bit too popular in terms of traffic safety. See redbankgreen‘s coverage of that issue here.