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A proposed Dunkin' Donuts on Tremont Street has residents up in arms

Posted by Patrick Rosso  October 13, 2011 09:32 AM

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(Patrick Rosso/

Residents voicing concerns at the packed PBNA meeting Wednesday.

A proposed Dunkin’ Donuts at 655 Tremont St. in the South End caused an uproar at the Pilot Block Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting.

At the packed meeting Wednesday night at the South End Branch Boston Public Library, neighbors came out in full force to oppose entrepreneur Clayton Turnbull’s plan to turn the roughly 3,000 square-foot space into the neighborhood's fifth Dunkin’ Donuts.

“We are all in agreement that we will strongly oppose this proposal,” said Nancy Downer, a 33-year-old fundraiser with Dana Farber, who lives in one of the condos above the storefront on Tremont Street.

“Rodents, trash and quality of life are concerns of ours. We have the highest concentration of restaurants in the neighborhood and we don’t think we can accommodate anymore,” added Downer.

Turnbull was not present for the general meeting but did meet with the group’s Zoning Committee last week.

During the informal conversation between Turnbull, Charley Zarkada and Mary Carroll of the Pilot Block Neighborhood Association, Turnbull told the two that the location will be his 9th Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Boston.

According to Carroll, Turnbull is already operating four in Logan Airport, one in Dorchester, one in the MBTA’s Ruggles Station, one on Massachusetts Avenue and one in Egelston Square.

Turnbull also told Carroll that he plans to use a private trash hauler, have a “muted” Dunkin’ Donuts sign on the front of the building and offer free Wi-Fi.

He also mentioned to Carroll that he does not anticipate having large trucks doing early morning delivery and would not be cooking on site.

Along with neighbor opposition, Turnbull has also run into the problem of zoning.

The space is zoned for commercial use but not for food service.

Turnbull told the Zoning Committee that he would be seeking a variance from the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals but had not received an appeal date as of Oct. 13.

Even with all the uproar in the room, David Mooney, president of the neighborhood assocation, pushed for the group to meet with Turnbull and to at least allow him a chance to present his plans to residents.

“He has a right to come in here and have us listen to his proposal,” said Mooney.

Many at the meeting weren’t in agreement and an informal vote was taken by the group to oppose the project.

Along with rodents and trash, abutters and residents who lived in the building said they worried about what the restaurant would do to their property values.

“I live above the space, so I have a lot of concerns. I worry the property value could drop. Honestly it scared me a lot,” said Patrick Miller, a 27-year-old real estate broker who lives directly above the location of the proposed restaurant.

Even with so many at the meeting adamant to flat out reject the proposal, the neighborhood association board still pushed for a meeting between residents and Turnbull.

No formal meeting has been scheduled between Turnbull and the neighborhood association, but the PBNA board said one would be scheduled as soon as possible.

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