By JOHN T. WARD
After an 11-week lull, the owner of a Red Bank gas station continued his bid to build a Dunkin’ shop for Parkway-bound commuters Thursday night with a revised plan.
This one shrinks the proposed coffee shop, eliminates interior seating and adds more space for vehicles to use the drive-thru service.
The Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) would be owned by a family business headed by Dominic Sequeira that also owns Dunkin’ shops in Shrewsbury and Lincroft. Sequeira’s operation would also manage a proposed Dunkin’ in Fair Haven that has generated far more controversy than the pending Red Bank plan.
This one, on the site of a Shell station at Newman Springs Road and Shrewsbury Avenue, would replace an existing convenience store and long-disused car wash. The gas operation, owned by Waseem Chaudhary, would get a complete overhaul, said attorney Rick Brodsky.
A use variance is needed for the combined food and retail sales.
Picking up after the last hearing on the matter in early January, most of the testimony centered on changes made in an effort to streamline the flow of vehicles through the site.
The Dunkin’ building would now be 1,500 square feet, down from a previously proposed 2,000, Verderese said. Two lanes of queuing for up to 19 cars would feed into an order board relocated to the west side of the property so that neighbors to the north don’t hear the squawk box; and the site could accommodate 12 parked cars, double the number required under borough ordinance, he said.
Vehicle turns would be limited to right-ins and right-outs, traffic planner Nick Verderese told the board, and pork chop-shaped traffic islands would be built to discourage violations.
But as they did at the earlier hearing, board members continued to focus on site access and interior flow, and to voice doubts that customers would obey the turn restrictions.
Rich Angowski questioned the rationale for having two driveways on the Newman Springs Road side. Sean Murphy said the design changes now had him concerned about a queue of vehicles attempting to leave the site.
Verderese said the timing of the traffic signal at the intersection ensured that would not be a significant issue, with a peak number of exiting vehicles at 65 per hour.
Things got heated when former mayor Ed McKenna, the attorney for the Exxon at the intersection, pressed Verderese on the possible dangers to pedestrians walking while talking on their cellphones across the exit from the pick-up window.
Verderese said the plan was drawn to ensure that drivers and pedestrians can see one another, and “as long as one sees the other, we’re good.”
But as to the theoretical situation proposed by McKenna, he said, “if I’m the idiot that is looking at my phone as I walk into the road, maybe I need to get bumped by the car because I’m too stupid to realize I shouldn’t be in the road.
“People are on their phones everywhere, I understand, and we design what we can,” he said.
McKenna and Brodsky have clashed a number of times over the course of the hearings, with Brodsky complaining that McKenna is offering unsupported testimony instead of asking questions.
In response, McKenna said several times that he’s also present “as a resident of Red Bank.”
Brodsky told the board that the station owners had acquired the home on the adjoining the site to north, though property has not been incorporated into the plan. Monmouth County records show the residential property, at 382 Shrewsbury, went for $195,277 earlier this month.
The hearing was scheduled to resume May 16, when McKenna is expected to put on rebuttal witnesses.
Meantime, jurisdictional appeals filed by lawyers for two resident objectors are scheduled to be heard by the Fair Haven zoning board April 4.