This is the web site of the Glenbrook Neighborhood Association. Our association represents the interests of the residents of Glenbrook. Overall, our objectives relate to beautification and improvement of our streets and public areas.
The Public Hearing regarding the Dunkin' Donuts on Hope Street is now scheduled for November 15, 2023, at 7:00 PM. You can find info about the Zoom meeting below.
In the meantime, we are asking all of our members to send an email to Mary Judge at email@example.com. Here is a sample email. Please feel free to use this one or write your own.
Dear Zoning Board of Appeals:
We respectfully request the Stamford Zoning Board of Appeals deny Dunkin Donuts' request for a dangerous drive-thru on Hope Street.
Stamford Zoning Regulations § 5.E limits drive-thru use at 364 Hope Street (in the C-N District) by providing that only "drive-through banks and pharmacies shall be permitted" in this district. The Regulations explicitly prohibit the use of a drive-thru retail bakery at this location. Therefore, the Zoning Enforcement Officer's decision certifying that the Applicant, 364 Wells Hope Street LLC, "may maintain and operate a drive-thru" Dunkin' Donuts at 364 Hope Street was illegal and in violation of the Stamford Zoning Regulations.
There is not a valid nonconforming use to operate a retail bakery drive-thru at 364 Hope Street because no such nonconforming use predated the enactment of the zoning regulation prohibiting this use. The site has historically been used as a bank with a drive-thru which has been and remains a permitted use. That use is grandfathered in - not the new proposed retail bakery use.
The existence of a bank drive-thru use at 364 Hope Street does not allow the owner to switch to the proposed new retail bakery drive-thru use because the property does not comply with the regulations governing that new use and the switch in use would create or expand a nonconformity.
Additionally, the applicant did not submit a traffic study or other evidence showing how this new use would impact traffic on the already congested Hope Street and it is expected that the drive-thru would have substantial adverse impacts on traffic flow and traffic safety (including pedestrian and bicyclist safety).
Please support our neighborhood and enforce the City's existing Zoning Regulations -reverse the Zoning Enforcement Officer's decision certifying the creation of a bakery drive-thru Dunkin' Donuts at 364 Hope Street.
Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/87861148694?pwd=Q3krSkpsNy9YSHhLQS9vUW52OENYUT09
Meeting ID: 878 6114 8694
One tap mobile +1-646-558-8656
Any applicant/public speaker wishing to submit written testimony can be sent by 12:00 noon on the day of the public hearing to Mary Judge: firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank you for taking the time and effort to help keep Hope Street traffic under control.
The GNA Board
Applications are now being accepted for its 2024 JWV Community Service Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who have made a significant contribution to the Stamford community and are given in honor of Stamford veterans who have selflessly served our country and community.
Click here for details and the application form: www.stamfordcoty.org/apply-for-scholarship
We, board members of the Glenbrook Neighborhood Association, are writing to express our concerns about the Dunkin' drive-thru that received a permit from Stamford's Zoning Enforcement Officer to open at the former Wells Fargo Bank location at 364 Hope St. Because the former bank had a drive-thru at this site, Dunkin's drive-thru has been "grandfathered in" as an "as of right" zoning use without any opportunity for public comment. It's a slam dunk for Dunkin' and terrible for residents.
The article on the front page of the Stamford Advocate on Thursday, Sept. 14, "Stamford Dunkin' drive-thru OK'ed despite neighbors' complaints; officials say their hands are tied," can imply residents had a say in the process. On the contrary, the permit was approved before anyone knew about it, even members of the Board of Representatives.
GNA strongly disagrees with the Zoning Enforcement Officer's view that a drive-thru bank and this drive-thru Dunkin have a comparable level of use. We foresee an increase in traffic volume on that already dangerously congested stretch of Hope Street and the intersection at Church Street. We feel the city should have required a traffic study and evaluated the project's impact on safety and health. We'd like Stamford to grow with development that's thoughtful and well-considered and that's not what this is.
The problems with drive-thrus are clear, and new ones are now prohibited in Stamford. Drive-thru users block sidewalks, bike lanes, and travel lanes. Emissions from idling cars and trash tossed out open windows contribute to environmental pollution. Drivers crossing double-yellow lines to get in and out are hazardous to our cyclists, pedestrians, and students walking to and from Stark, Dolan, and Stamford High schools. The car-centric drive-thru model is far from the walkable ideal of the Glenbrook neighborhood. A sit-down coffee and doughnut shop where people can meet with friends would be much better suited to a neighborhood like ours.
The Transportation Department has added conditions to the permit to mitigate the impact on Hope Street. The site will be reworked to allow 20 cars to queue on site before they back up onto Hope Street, as happens at the Donut Delight drive-thru just two-tenths of a mile farther south. A second condition requires the driveways to be right turn in and right turn out only. We say good luck to the steady stream of exiting drivers waiting for rush hour commuters to let them into the flow of traffic.
We've read that the Dunkin' franchisee, who has 49 other Connecticut locations, prizes customers' "guest experience." They have no idea what traffic headaches await their future Glenbrook customers, for example the gridlock at the intersection of Hope and Church when trains block Glenbrook Road.
This has been a lesson in "Getting to Know the Zoning Board of Appeals." GNA first learned that a Dunkin drive-thru had been approved for the long vacant bank drive-thru site next to Glenbrook Post Office when a legal notice appeared in print on Sept. 6. It announced that the Zoning Board of Appeals would sign off on the permit and that any aggrieved persons could appeal to the ZBA. Easier said than done.
An appeal has to take place at a ZBA public hearing, requires an application due within 30 days, and has a price tag. The fee for a ZBA public hearing is $1,000. To appeal the Zoning Enforcement Officer's decision costs $460 more. To have it recorded in Land Records costs $65 more. So far that's $1,525, but the applicant is also required to pay for the three legal notices published in the Advocate announcing the public hearing. The only way to appeal is through this application process. It's also the only way the ZBA will accept letters and emails. Back when the Board of Representatives determined this fee structure, they must have had business applicants in mind, not Stamford residents such as GNA and everyone who has complained to us about the permit but cannot afford to appeal it.
Actually, in this case — because of grandfathering — an appeal wouldn't change the permit decision and would just be an expensive way to blow off steam.
To sum up, we are shocked and discouraged that Stamford allows consequential permits to be issued without citizen involvement. Grandfathering should be abolished. The permit appeal process shuts out residents who cannot afford the steep fees. And we wish the new businesses that come to Glenbrook would boost the local economy without sacrificing our community's well-being and character.
Glenbrook Neighborhood Association board members Marie Metz (president) Lori Constantine, Laurie Doig, Christie Fountain, Miriam Kliewe, Anita Kozminsky, MaryAnn Mara, Meryl McDaniel, Melanie Soper and Zdenka Zeman.