Dunkin' Donuts is one step closer to becoming a reality at the Telegraph South Shopping Center after the St. Louis County Planning commission approved its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) by a vote of 5-0 at Monday’s meeting.
Although Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner Michael Geller is excited by the decision for what could be his third store in St. Louis, he said, “It’s not a done deal yet. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous (to think otherwise).”
There are several more steps to go before ground is broken, concrete is poured and donuts are dunked at the spot currently occupied by a Jazzercise fitness club, which has been ordered by its landlord to vacate on or before June 30.
The planning commission will send its approval letter to the County Council next Tuesday.
If the council does not initiate any activity in 15 days — anyone can contact them during this period — the permit becomes effective and the project moves forward in the approval-making process, said Gail Choate, land use manager for the St. Louis County Department of Planning.
The next phase of the approval process is zoning, followed a parking analysis, site development and building plans.
At Monday’s meeting, the planning commission addressed the new building’s impact on single-family residences on Golden Valley Drive, which is located behind the proposed 24-hour coffee and donut retailer.
Lighting, landscape and fencing concerns were specifically addressed.
Revised drawings and additional documentation—provided by Geller’s engineer and presented by Choate—show 150 linear feet of 6-foot tall fencing, 30 bayberry shrubs that can grow to a height of 9 to 15 feet and shadow-box lights not to exceed 16 feet in height. The lights are designed to illuminate downward rather than fan out.
There was no discussion of sound, nor was there any discussion of traffic concerns.
Sound was not identified as a cause of concern, said Choate, “and nobody has called for a traffic study.”
A traffic study is not mandatory, but the county usually defers to county and state highway departments or conducts its own study. In this case, no one has mentioned obtaining a study.
However, nearby Birchwood Estates residents who attended the meeting afterward cited their concern about traffic.
“It’s going to be a nightmare,” said Matt Cash who lives on Golden Valley Drive. He is concerned about extra traffic generated by cars entering and exiting the lot from Telegraph Road.
“Why not put it (Dunkin' Donuts) on Pottle and Telegraph? There’s a vacant carwash, it’s an eyesore and it has its own entry and exit,” he said.
Dennis Banker, who lives in Birchwood Estates and attended the meeting, is still not happy with the prospect of a donut shop open 24/7, but was pleased with some changes.
“I think we won some concessions tonight,” he said. His wife, Kathy, who also attended the planning commission meeting, remains concerned.
The proposed fast-food restaurant will have 32 seats on the inside and 12 seats outside. It is also expected to eliminate 31 of the shopping center’s 368 parking spaces.
“We will do our best to be a good neighbor,” said Geller of residents’ concerns. His mother and aunt operate several Dunkin Donut franchises in New Jersey.