Sandri probes land buy for Dunkin Donuts drive-thru in Chester

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Sandri, in yellow, town property adjacent, in green.

Sandri, in yellow, town property adjacent, in green. Illustration by Chester Telegraph. Click to enlarge.

With construction of a new Jiffy Mart across the street just a month away, Sandri, the owner of the Sunoco station on Main Street in Chester, is asking the Select Board if it would sell a strip of town-owned land so the company could add a Dunkin Donuts drive-through to its offerings.

“We want to gain access to a small parcel of land that the town owns between our building and the river,” said Michael V. Behn, president and chief operating officer of the Sandri Companies of Greenfield, Mass.

In a Feb. 22 letter to Town Manager David Pisha, Behn broached the subject of buying the land, saying that the town “historically has used this land to allow the fire department to draw water from the Williams River.” Behn said that if Sandri was to buy the land, it would give the town a permanent easement for access to the river.

The value of the property could not be determined by publishing time.

Behn requested an opportunity to discuss the offer with the Select Board, which has the Sandri offer on its agenda for tonight’s meeting. See the full agenda here.

The drive-through would begin on the westside of the building. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

The drive-through would begin on the westside of the building. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

“We’re going to have a serious new competitor across the street and we’d like to have more offerings,” said Behn noting that the the current gas station, convenience store and liquor outlet will remain but there are no plans for other franchises.

Behn envisions a drive-through that cars would enter from the “diner side” — nearer the Country Girl — and running behind the building to a window on the northeast corner.

“This would all be within the existing footprint,” said Behn. “There’s a lot of unused space in that building and Dunkin Donuts can operate in as little as 600 square feet.”

Having acknowledged in his letter to the town that the land in question is in a flood plain, Behn told The Telegraph that this is a concept that will take more than a little work and that he’s coming to the Select Board to get a sense of whether a deal could be made.

“Before we go through the expense of surveying the property, we want to get a sense of of what’s possible,” said Behn. “We would be open to an easement (rather than a sale) if the town was open to that.”

Next year would be an opportune time to do this, according to Behn, adding that all single-wall gas tanks have to be replaced with double wall tanks by December 2017.

“We have to re-tank next year,” he said.

If the plan comes to fruition, the doughnut shop would be a franchise owned and operated by a Dunkin Donuts franchisee from Leominster, Mass.

“It’s been a good site for us. We like Chester,” said Behn. “Dunkin Donuts analyzed the area and Chester is a very attractive market. They’d love to be in Chester.”

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  1. MJ Miles says:

    Wasn’t a traffic study done at the request of the town as part of Jiffy Mart’s bid to go onto their new location? Was there one requested and done by the Dollar General? Do we have the legal right to say no further business can happen in an area based on new business arriving? Just questions I am asking if anyone can impart information that would be great.

  2. Kathy says:

    Within a very small portion of Route 103 there will be three new businesses whose true impact on flow, backups and accidents won’t actually be known until they are open for business. I feel it would be prudent to hold any decisions on the proposed Dunkin Donuts drive-through until after one of the other approved projects is up and running.

    Personally, I agree that the town should take advantage of the opportunity to make money from tourist and trucking traffic, but feel that it should be done in a manner that doesn’t create a potentially hazardous driving scenario along with generic corporate construction that detracts from Chester’s Green and Stone Village areas.

    Will the new Jiffy Mart, Dollar General and Dunkin Donuts clumped in the same area (the front door of the historic districts) create an inviting presence, luring tourists to venture off 103 to the Green, or does it send the message that Chester is a minor pitstop on the way to Ludlow?

  3. MJ Miles says:

    Is that a state highway or a town road? I am for more opportunities in Chester. If the zoning allows then why should it not be considered? This road is a major thru-way for trucking and tourism for Okemo, Killington and more. Why not take from that traffic and increase the potential for them to stop in our town and spend money?

  4. Lew Watters says:

    There should be a moratorium on any further development at this location until we know more about impact from increased vehicle traffic. We don’t know the traffic impact from the Dollar General as well as the new Champlain Oil (Jiffy Mart) development. Chester is on the verge of a “malfunction junction” at Rte 11 and 103!