Holyoke planners to consider revised plans for Dunkin’ on Mt. Tom

  • Lori Tisdell leads a group with the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club out of the parking lot where a Dunkin’ Donuts and take-out deli have been proposed in September 2021. The property is owned by the Log Cabin. The building in the distance is the former Mt. Joe to Go coffee drive-thru. —GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, August 08, 2022

HOLYOKE — The developers hoping to build a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts on Mount Tom will be back in front of the Planning Board this month as their lawsuit against the board continues.

Nearly a year ago, Holyoke’s Planning Board rejected the proposal by The Log Cabin and Banquet House, where the drive-thru would be located, and Salmar Realty, a Ludlow company that operates some 50 Dunkin’ locations in the region. But the companies sued over the denial, and now both parties have agreed to have the proposal sent back to the board for further consideration.

The proposed drive-thru facility at 500 Easthampton Road, also known as Route 141, generated controversy during nine public hearings in front of the Planning Board, which ultimately rejected the project after two members voted against it, citing traffic and public safety concerns. City residents spoke out during those meetings over similar worries.

In an order filed June 27, state Land Court Judge Kevin Smith said that Salmar, The Log Cabin and the Planning Board had all agreed to have the project remanded back to the board “for the purpose of allowing Salmar to propose a revised project plan that addresses the original concerns of the Board … and to allow the Board to conduct a further public hearing on Salmar’s proposal.”

Under the order, the Land Court will retain jurisdiction over the case, meaning that if Salmar and The Log Cabin are not satisfied with the Planning Board’s decision on its revised plans, it can continue with its lawsuit.

Reached on Monday afternoon, Mimi Panitch, the acting Planning Board chair, declined to comment because of the ongoing litigation.

“To reach an agreement, people have to talk to each other and so it’s a step in the right direction,” Michael Pill, an attorney for the developers, said by phone Monday. “What the outcome will be is anyone’s guess.”

Salmar and The Log Cabin’s original plans for the site — where the former Mt. Joe to Go coffee drive-thru is located — included a Dunkin’ Donuts as well as a Delaney’s Market takeout deli, with a queue that can fit up to 12 cars. The project would have also included the addition of a left-turn lane onto the property for northbound drivers and the promise of a 12-month “lookback” study in which an independent firm would assess traffic at the site.

In an email, Sharon Konstantinidis, the administrative head clerk of the city’s Planning Department, said that the Planning Board has reserved Aug. 16 for a public hearing on the new plans but has not received any such plans yet from the applicants.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.