BROOKFIELD Town approves downtown drive-thru regulations
BROOKFIELD — Officials hope new regulations on drive-thrus will help foster development downtown.
The Zoning Commission passed late last week the regulations, which require developers to apply for a special permit if they want a drive-thru.
Drive-thrus already exist downtown, but Brookfield did not have regulations on these establishments in the Town Center District.
With the new regulations, the owner of Dunkin plans to apply to move his store down Federal Road into the property where the Hearth Restaurant used to be.
Neil Marcus, attorney for the Dunkin owner, said this is a better location for the store, adding the move would bolster the town’s efforts to revitalize the downtown.
“At that point, we can move forward with the project, which I think will be quite in line with the spirit of the redevelopment of the Town Center District,” he said at a meeting late last week.
The town is working on a multiphase project to add sidewalks, parking, crosswalks and more downtown with the aim of attracting developers and making the area pedestrian friendly.
Still, some residents remained concerned that drive-thrus contradict this mission.
“If you’re going to allow drive-thrus, you’re basically saying, ‘We don’t care if you walk through the area,’” resident Rich Saluga said at the meeting. “You can just drive through, get your product and keep going. That doesn’t seem to jive with the idea of pedestrian access or a pedestrian-friendly area.”
But Greg Dembowski, who is in charge of the streetscape project, said he supported the regulations.
“It’s a great thing for Brookfield,” he said.
Commission member Curtis Timmerman added drive-thrus are helpful for the elderly and parents with small children.
“There’s got to be some accommodation for people who are stuck in their car and physically can’t get out,” he said.
The regulations require drive-thrus to sit on a 40,000-square-foot lot at minimum. The lot also must have frontage on a state highway and be south of the intersection of Federal Road and Route 25.
The lot size requirement, in particular, would keep pedestrians safe because cars would have more room to line up, Timmerman said.
“You mitigate the danger,” he said.
This is not the only rule change coming down the pike.
The commission is also considering a major rewrite of all zoning regulations.
The commission could vote at its next meeting on this update, which is meant to simplify the regulations.
During the final public hearing on the proposal, residents gave feedback on parking restrictions, among other potential changes.
But whatever the commission decides, the new regulations should make life easier for developers, Jim Fisher, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, said.
“For years, I’ve heard coming to Brookfield is a nightmare,” he said at the meeting. “Let’s get rid of that stigma attached to the town. Let’s try to make it so when a developer comes, they’re like, ‘Holy crap, these guys want to help me develop this property. They don’t want to torture me.’ I would beg you guys to do that.”