Muhlenberg residents concerned about proposed Dunkin' Donuts

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - Several residents of Heritage Place, a subdivision of apartment-style condos, townhomes, and detached single homes in Muhlenberg Township, have expressed their concerns about a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 61.

The board of commissioners in January approved zoning relief for Dunkin’ Donuts' drive-thru window. Normally, the driveway for the window would need to be 100 feet from the nearest residential property. Due to concerns about traffic backups on Route 61, however, the board gave approval to lengthen the driveway, which puts it about 33 feet from Heritage Place.

"I won't be able to sit out on my patio because of the traffic and the noise, and I don't think that's fair to me or the rest of the residents that live in my development," Heritage Place resident Sharon Fox said at the commissioners' meeting Monday night.

"The main purpose of my coming up here is to maintain our quiet little neighborhood," resident Elaine Swavely said. "We;re really afraid that [Dunkin' Donuts] is going to encroach upon us, and we're not going to have that."

Commissioner Michael Malinowski said the board has not seen any plans or ideas from the developer at this point. 

"We hear your concerns and we appreciate them," he said. "All five of us are going to ensure that we do everything we can for those folks who visit that block and accommodate everything the best we can within our legal authority."

Residents said they were concerned that they missed an initial meeting to discuss the proposed restaurant.

Township Solicitor Michael Setley said this is just the beginning of a long process.

"It's not too late," he said. "There's still going to be plenty of opportunities for your input."

Malinowski encouraged residents to attend the planning commission meeting on Wednesday, May 17.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve vacating unopened portions of Water Street and Seventh Avenue so that Specialty Rigging can expand to store trucks and other items.

"We've had Specialty Rigging in our community for a while – a very successful operation – and we thought expanding their operation is something that would benefit the community as well as probably bring in more employment into the township," Jamal Abodalo, the township's manager, said.

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