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Dunkin’ Donuts makes second bid for Bernardston shop

xA special permit to add a Dunkin’ Donuts to the Church Street Sunoco station in Bernardston, owned by the A.R. Sandri Co., was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Recorder/David Rainville

xA special permit to add a Dunkin’ Donuts to the Church Street Sunoco station in Bernardston, owned by the A.R. Sandri Co., was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

BERNARDSTON — One year after withdrawing plans to add a Dunkin’ Donuts to its full-service gas station, a local oil company has brought revised plans before the town.

The AR Sandri Co., which owns and operates a Church Street Sunoco station, will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals in a public hearing at 7:30 p.m., May 8 in Town Hall.

Last year’s attempt to bring the doughnut chain to Bernardston was withdrawn after it was found that the town’s zoning bylaws didn’t allow businesses to offer takeout food. Takeout service was already offered by several nearby businesses, including Antonios II Pizza, the 7 South Bakery, Hillside Pizza, the Four Leaf Clover and the Country Corner Store, and town officials saw the ban on takeout as an oversight.

The Planning Board drafted new bylaws that would allow takeout service and they were approved at a special town meeting.

Now that the doughnut chain no longer clashes with bylaws, Sandri has put the project forward again.

Sandri has scaled back plans, in hopes that the new design will fit better with the surrounding buildings.

Last year, several residents objected to a Dunkin’ Donuts in their town, for many reasons. Some said that it would draw people away from nearby restaurants and that it would bring too much traffic to the village center.

Michael Behn, Sandri’s chief operating officer, said Sandri estimates that the doughnut shop could serve between 2,500 and 3,000 customers per week. He said it would benefit the town, due to the 0.75 percent local meals tax.

Others said its appearance would stick out in the quaint downtown. Behn said Sandri has worked with the franchisee to make the building fit in.

“We’ve softened the look of the exterior,” said Behn. “It initially had a loud-looking Dunkin’ Donuts sign on the left-side front. We’ve scaled that down and moved it below the roof line.”

He said the building would be clad in architectural shingles that will replicate its current wood siding.

Behn said the shop would be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and he expects it to bring as many as 15 new jobs to town.

The lot would be redesigned to provide 14 parking spaces and the interior would include seating for 14 customers. Traffic would be improved by installing a median where the property meets Center Street. Currently, said Behn, cars can pull into and out of the lot from Center Street, which can cause traffic hazards.

The gas pumps would stay put, and Sandri would continue to offer full-service fueling. Behn said a new 50-square-foot “goal post” style sign would be installed, displaying the Sunoco and Dunkin’ Donuts logos, as well as current gas prices.

The Dunkin’ Donuts would be run by Leominster company Kcmc management, which operates “about a dozen” Dunkin’ Donuts stores, said Behn. He said the company has a track record of partnership with host towns, and donating to local causes.

Behn said the gas station’s survival could depend on the deal.

“We’re hoping to stay there and sell gas, but it’s hard without another business,” said Behn. “I think the public finds it convenient to have gas in town, but there’s just not enough money in gas alone.”

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 @RecorderRain

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