Traffic concerns slow down Wendy's proposed for West Wareham

Jan 11, 2018

Wareham’s newest shopping center could soon house a Wendy’s, provided the developer earns a reprieve from the town’s drive-thru ban.

On Wednesday, representatives from the J. Donegan Company, a Virginia-based development firm, sought permission to include a drive-thru in a 2,400-square-foot Wendy’s restaurant slated for the Wareham Marketplace.

Located at the corner of Tobey Road and Cranberry Highway, the mixed-use commercial center saw the opening of an Aldis supermarket in November. An Autozone is also planned for the area.

J. Donegan Company owner Jay Donegan is seeking more tenants, and he said Wendy’s has expressed an interest. Donegan and Matt Smith, a representative from Bohler Engineering, appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals at a public hearing seeking a drive-thru.

While board members have the authority to grant permission for a drive-thru despite the ban, which has been in place for seven years, they said an increase in traffic was concerning.

“I am for drive-thrus,” said Chair Nazih Elkallassi. “But I think that corner is very tough for a drive-thru. It’s going to add a tremendous amount of traffic.”

Planning Board member and West Wareham resident Marc Bianco agreed, adding that elected officials had a duty to avoid planning mistakes made in East Wareham.

Bianco said he favored new business, but noted that public safety should come first and that traffic accidents are draining town resources.

“We need more jobs. We need more revenue…We cannot repeat what’s happening on Cranberry Highway,” said Bianco. “It’s pretty much a suicide road.”

The night before, Planning Board members debated bringing an agenda item to Town Meeting in April that, if approved, would lift the drive-thru ban. Selectman Alan Slavin urged the Zoning Board to hold off on a decision until that issue was decided.

Smith said the matter was time sensitive and was hopeful construction could start this spring. He promised to return to the Zoning Board in two weeks with an updated traffic study on the site, saying that may alleviate the board’s concerns.

“We’re very interested in this working well,” said Smith.

The public hearing was continued to Jan. 24. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Service Center.