Wendy's drive-thru approved by Wareham Zoning Board of Appeals

May 10, 2018

Officials were dismayed to learn that a drive-thru ban reversed at Town Meeting inadvertently excluded land on Tobey Road where developers plan to build a Wendy’s.

In January, developers were told those upcoming zoning changes would nix the need for permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the drive-thru.

“There’s nothing more ruthless than local government,” said board member James Eacobacci on Wednesday.

In the end, the J. Donegan Company received permission for a drive-thru at a Wendy’s slated for the town’s newest shopping center, Wareham Marketplace. Located at the corner of Tobey Road and Cranberry Highway, the center opened in November and is currently home to an ALDI supermarket and AutoZone. Plans call for building a 2,400-square-foot restaurant.

In January, J. Donegan Company owner Jay Donegan and Matt Smith of Bohler Engineering appeared before the board to address traffic concerns. At the time, they were told lifting the ban would be before voters at April Town Meeting.

Voters did approve a change that allowed fast food drive-thrus in the general commercial district. Originally, the commercial strip district, where the Wendy’s would be located, was included. However, for reasons unclear, that district was removed by the Planning Board in the zoning regulations before it went to voters.

The result is that a drive-thru would be allowed without zoning board approval in the property located just across the street near Walmart, but not in the Wareham Marketplace.

“I want to express my extreme displeasure that the Town Meeting article was never discussed, never explained during the regular hearing,” said Selectman Alan Slavin. “This is a complete surprise, and for me to be surprised is quite unusual.”

After a brief discussion, zoning board members unanimously approved the drive-thru.