AP NEWS

Judge upholds Danbury’s denial of Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru

April 15, 2019

DANBURY - A state judge has upheld the city’s decision to deny Dunkin’ Donuts a drive-thru window on a busy stretch of Mill Plain Road.

Superior Court Judge Andrew Roraback sided with Danbury’s planners and zoners, who denied Dunkin’ Donuts a special permit in 2017 to open a drive-thru store on a section of Mill Plain Road near Interstate 84 Exit 2A.

The judge said he was not swayed by Dunkin’ Donuts’ arguments that Danbury’s decision was retaliatory, discriminatory, and reached without evidence that a drive-thru would make traffic worse.

“All of these challenges must be considered against the backdrop of the broad discretion that is afforded to zoning commissions when they chose to amend zoning regulations,” Roraback wrote in an April 11 decision. “(A) local zoning authority must ... be free to modify its regulations whenever time, experience, and reasonable planning for contemporary or future conditions reasonably indicate the need for a change.”

Dunkin’ Donuts had applied for special permission to operate a drive-thru at 110 Mill Plain Road, estimating that the window would account for 60 percent of the store’s business. The location is near a busy strip mall anchored by Trader Joe’s.

The city’s Planning Commission denied the request, in part because fast-food drive-thru windows were not allowed in the zone, and in part because the traffic design was configured in an unconventional way.

“(T)here was substantial evidence provided by the city’s expert staff that the internal flow of traffic would be problematic both on and off the site,” the judge wrote.