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Doughnut decision postponed in Bernardston

BERNARDSTON — The decision on whether to issue a special permit to bring a Dunkin’ Donuts to town was postponed for the second time in a week.

The Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing Thursday on the AR Sandri Co.’s proposal to add a Dunkin’ Donuts to its Church Street Sunoco station. The hearing was originally scheduled for May 8, but was put off for a week because the board did not have its full five members.

After hearing from Sandri representatives and residents both for and against the company’s plans, the board decided to take a few days to think things over before rendering a decision.

The board will resume its deliberation at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall. While residents are allowed to attend, the board will not hear further comments on the matter.

Most residents Thursday spoke out against the plan, citing concerns like increased traffic and associated safety issues, and whether the shop would take business away from places like the Country Corner Store next door, and the 7 South Bakery around the corner, both of which sell coffee and snacks among other things.

Those for the shop said it might bring extra business to nearby stores, including the Country Corner.

Board member Robert McCollum asked that the board hold off on a decision, so it could make sure all details and concerns were addressed.

“It’s like taking a shot with a rifle. Once you pull the trigger, you can’t put the bullet back in,” said McCollum.

The board reached a consensus that the proposed operating hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. would conflict with town bylaws, which only allow businesses to operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The doughnut store would be located in the existing building, with a small area reserved for gas station attendants. The coffee shop would include seating for 14, with as many parking spots outside. All service would be dine-in or take-out, as drive-throughs are prohibited by town bylaws.

Sandri’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Behn, said the station’s survival depends on extra income from renting space to a tenant. Behn said the company held out hope that an auto mechanic would rent its two repair bays. If the Dunkin’ Donuts is not approved, he said, Sandri would resume the search for a mechanic or other tenant.

If they can’t find one, he said, it may mean the end of the gas station. Behn said the Sunoco station has been losing money, and was $5,000 in the red in March alone.

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

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