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The Dunkin' Donuts Without a Drive-Through

Assistant Manager Mike Stamboni estimates that a drive-through could double business for the local store.

The question of may be up for debate at an April 9 public hearing, but Tolland zoning regulations also still prohibit one of the more common drive-through window uses: drive-throughs for food service.

The Merrow Road may be the business most visibly affected by those regulations. Assistant Manager Mike Stamboni said the ban on drive-throughs has been a challenge.

"We're still doing very well, but a drive-through could double the traffic at the very least," he said. Stamboni noted that the store sees a definite dip in customer numbers whenever a drive-through Dunkin' Donuts opens anywhere remotely near Tolland.

He added that convenience is an important factor for many customers, especially during bad weather.

"I see people coming in and if they don't see a drive-through, they will literally drive away, and I hate to see that. We're here to make business."

Dunkin' Donuts employee Lisa Carey-Michaud said that many people will ask her why the store, located right off of I-84, does not have a drive-through option.

"They're amazed that we don't have a drive-through," she said. And while she said the current store design could probably accommodate a drive-through with only moderate reconstruction, she did stress that she was worried about the possible effect a drive-through could have on the busy Route 195 traffic.

"My only concern is people making a left out of here," she said. She cited the Vernon McDonald's off of exit 67 as an example of how a busy drive-through can create frustrating traffic congestion.

According to a , Director of Planning & Community Development Linda Farmer explained that traffic intensity was a large factor in banning food service drive-throughs from town in the late 1980s. 

In an informal poll on Tolland Patch, 66 percent of respondents said they think the town should allow drive-throughs for pharmacies and food service businesses.

Cris April 03, 2012 at 11:28 AM
YES! We should allow drive-thru restaurants! The majority of people in Town want this. It's about time the majority ruled!
Sharon April 03, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Wonder why they weren't more concerned about traffic when the Electric Blue went in right next to Subway on one of our major roads in town. Seems there should be more zoning regulations for that than a little drive-thru for a Dunkin Donuts!
jmf April 03, 2012 at 12:46 PM
It's 2012. Tolland can't stay in the 1700's forever. It's time to wake up and smell the [Dunkin' Donuts] coffee. Work on the traffic control issues and then let the businesses run as they should. We need better traffic control now with the UCONN traffic, anyway, so why not let the businesses and the town work things so everyone benefits.
KAREN ZASHUT April 03, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Exactly my thoughts....They allow a strip club to be in town but not any drive thrus..come on!
Ed G April 03, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Tolland needs commercial development in the area near I-84 to stabalize and improve our tax base. Traffic issues need to be worked on with or without a drive through. Drive throughs have become a staple of the food service industry, and it is time that Tolland move into the current century. Let them have a drive through!
Leisa Hickey April 03, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I COMPLETELY AGREE!!!! It makes no sense to me why a 'drive through' at Dunkin Donuts is a 'huge' issue when having a strip joint in town doesn't seem to be "a problem" ...REALLY? What's the logic in those 'zoning regulations'?
GG April 03, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Keep in mind that if Dunkin Donuts is allowed to have a drive-thru, then that opens the doors for any and all drive-thru type restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Sonic, etc. You can't allow one but not another. Tolland would need to decide if they want 195 (or other places in town) to have strips of fast food restaurants.
Cris April 03, 2012 at 02:03 PM
GG---Exactly...Tolland needs the jobs created and the tax revenue restaurants would bring to the town! Every Friday & Sat. night you can watch potential revenue for Tolland drive to Vernon or Manchester out to dinner. Makes no sense to have a strip club, drive-thru Banks, but no drive-thru restaurants. I think it should be put to a town vote.
Sharon April 03, 2012 at 02:42 PM
In as little as 15 yrs ago you couldn't even find a house for sale in Tolland. No one left, no one moved. Now hard working people must leave because they can't afford their homes and the taxes in the town. They put in the new High School that they knew they couldn't afford but what the heck, just raise our taxes for that. No penny pinching when they want to build something, no downsizing for them! Let's just make it the biggest and the best of everything and raise taxes. Residents need relief from the taxes so that we can support businesses in our town and be able to stay in our homes. Do we want fast food or strip clubs. Oh I forgot, we probably get tons of tax revenue from Electric Blue .... not to mention what THAT business brings to our town.
Gail Satterlee April 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Why is it okay to benefit from the use of drive-thrus in other towns but cringe in having it in your own? A billboard advertising the local strip joint is okay?
L. Verfaille April 03, 2012 at 02:45 PM
The Town Planner and the Planning and Zoning commission are responsible for this. Some years ago they voted not to allow drive-throughs to keep the town's rural feel. We have lost several business because of this: McDonalds, CVS, etc. Since the center of town is supposed to designed as a business corridor why wouldn't drive-throughs be allowed? This town desperately needs the revenue in taxes from these businesses. Wouldn't it be nice to have a CVS or Walgreen's right in town? That and signage size regulations are a deterrent. Where is the outrage???? This is our town. The town planner doesn't even live here.
GG April 03, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I have been at PZC meetings where many people have openly voiced concerns that they did not want Tolland to look like Rte 83 in Vernon. Others are okay with it. Some want big box stores. Others say they moved to Tolland precisely because they wanted to get away from that sort of thing, knowing that they will have to travel a bit (to Manchester) for those amenities. There seems to be a lot of competing visions of what the town should be.
Donna Allegro April 03, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Our planning dept is a little out of touch with reality. Their dream, I believe, is for us to have cute little mom and pop stores in a quaintly designed shopping area. That would be wonderful, except the problem is the cute little shops can't survive in this economy. We even lost the great little educational toystore near Big Y ! Only the larger stores can survive today! How about a restaurant that's not a pizza parlor?
GG April 03, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Donna--I think the idea for the Tolland Village Area was to promote a sort of Evergreen Walk look but with a variety of housing/condos/individual homes to provide a built-in customer base.
Robert Savary April 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The town made a decision some 25 years ago that it did not want McDonald's or similar fast food restaurants in order to preserve the town's rural character. However, we may have outlived the rural model. We have become suburban and are hardly rural now. The drive-through regulations should be revisited.
Lisa G April 03, 2012 at 11:10 PM
While it would be really nice to have businesses like Barnes and Noble, Dunkin' and CVS w/drive thru's, and Staples, Tolland cannot just shoehorn these businesses in where there's a little room without considering the traffic and safety issues. The BigY plaza works well because it was designed well, set back from the road with proper lights at the intersection. UCONN almost needs it's own exit at this point. We've all seen the traffic back up right onto the highway! And let's replace Electric Blue with a Trader Joe's!! Who in town is really going to miss it?
PJ April 04, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I agree that Dunkin Donuts should have a drive through. I have watched people drive around and leave because it doesn't exist. A drive through is "bad" but a strip joint is ok?? Who is making these decsions?? What world are they in. Is it time for a reality check?? Fellow Earthlings, It's time to allow businesses to grow and create zoning that will attract businesses. We need to balance the tax base.
Luther Heggs April 04, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The reason we don't have a drug store in town is because of the no drive-thru window restriction. We have a strip joint, but no drug store. We're taxed at a rate similar to Glastonbury, Avon and Simsbury, but have no drug store, sidewalks, street lights, sewers, city water or dedicated town police department. What is wrong with this picture? Who had the myopic foresight to vote 'yes' on this ordinance? Was it just to keep McDonald's out? Pfft. Idiots. Has anyone EVER approached any of these other town's administrators and asked if they ever considered a 'no drive thru' ordinance? Or how they manage to provide all the other services without crushing taxation? Or would their egos be bruised having to admit they don't know everything they could to help our town grow into what is considered a normal town with normal services and conveniences. SERIOUSLY Tolland, time to evolve.
Susie Lotreck April 04, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I agree completely with Lisa G's suggestion above -- replace Electric Blue with a Trader Joe's~ Really -- who would miss that place? I shake my head every time I drive past that place -- What value does it add to our town? [besides revenue to offset taxes]. And why are the allowed to put up multi-color Palm Tree lights when other businesses in town are restricted from putting up signs to advertise their busineses??
LaFrance April 04, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Glad to see so many intelligent residents! YES to the drive thru.
PJ April 04, 2012 at 10:36 AM
I agree. Go to Dunkin Donuts on Sat. or Sun. morning and watch the chaos of people looking for parking. A lot of folks leave because there is no drive through and the difficulty of finding parking. Is it time to start a referundum pettition to get this on a ballot so the people can let Town Officials know that it is time to revise the ordinance of no drive throughs? Isn't it time to welcome and support local businesses?
Mike Bragg April 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I agree with the original decision to dis-allow a drive-thru. Solution to the parking lot chaos: Put a sign out front: "No drive-thru here."
Luther Heggs April 04, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Along with a "We're stuck in the 70's and Your'e Not Welcome." sign.
kmgp April 04, 2012 at 04:48 PM
A few years ago the building that houses Papa Ts, NAPA Auto Parts and Electric Blue was for sale - the town of Tolland had the chance to buy it but for whatever reason chose not to buy it. The building was bought by the folks who own Electric Blue, so as long as the place makes money, it's going to stay where it is. I agree on the Trader Joe's though - how can we not have a Whole Foods further east than Glastonbury?
CAT April 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Yes to the Drive Thru -- bring Tolland into this century. Anyone who chooses to leave the parking lot can still make a left onto 195. No drive thru (nor any sign) will stop this. We might as well get their business.
GG April 13, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Susie--I believe the palm tree lights issue was discussed by the PZC because there was a question whether they were or were not an actual "sign." The town attorney's opinion was that they are not a sign and therefore not subject to the sign regulations.
Susie Lotreck April 13, 2012 at 04:27 PM
@GG: Thanks for the information about why those Palm trees are allowed to exist. That is an important tip to share with the businesses I support -- come up with a creative way to promote their goods for sale without being subject to the sign regulations.
Helen May 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM
As an out of towner to Tolland, that has played many an early morning soccer game at the fields in Tolland a drive thru at the D&D we be welcomed addition.

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