Starbucks gets go-ahead from Greenfield Planning Board

The Greenfield Planning Board unanimously gave its approval Thursday to the site plan for a Starbucks coffeehouse equipped with a 14-vehicle drive-thru at 200 Mohawk Trail, replacing the Friendly’s restaurant currently located at the site.

The Greenfield Planning Board unanimously gave its approval Thursday to the site plan for a Starbucks coffeehouse equipped with a 14-vehicle drive-thru at 200 Mohawk Trail, replacing the Friendly’s restaurant currently located at the site. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-05-2024 3:40 PM

GREENFIELD — It’s official. Starbucks coffee will be served up in the city this fall.

The Planning Board unanimously gave its approval Thursday to the site plan for a Starbucks coffeehouse equipped with a 14-vehicle drive-thru at 200 Mohawk Trail, replacing the Friendly’s restaurant currently located at the site, which is expected to close in September.

Following a 20-day appeals process, Starbucks is slated to begin construction and landscaping in the summer with plans to move into the location in the fall, according to Planning Director Eric Twarog. The Planning Board approved the project’s site plan under the conditions that Starbucks landscape the site’s facade with native plants, and install two-way drive-thru exits and entrances at both the north and south ends of the property to prevent a line of vehicles from backing onto either Route 2 or Robbins Road.

“My main concern is backup. On Federal Street, there are two Dunkin’ Donuts and I think we’ve all experienced cars backing onto that road waiting to get onto that site [and] full of coffee,” Planning Board Chair George Touloumtzis said. “My bigger concern is people getting stuck on Route 2.”

Prior to the vote, Kimley-Horn and Associates Traffic Engineer Lisa Juan presented a traffic study to the board, which found that the approximately 4,306-square-foot re-development is expected to generate a total of 2,300 vehicle trips to the Starbucks per day — an increase of 143 more vehicles than Friendly’s attracts during “peak morning hours” on weekdays, and 176 more vehicle trips on Saturday evenings at peak time.

Juan added that although the site plan would allow a 14-vehicle queue to occupy the drive-thru, the company is expected to rarely take in more than 10 vehicles at a time. She said that on average, sites similar to the future Starbucks see a 50/50 split between in-store and drive-thru customers.

The site plan and corresponding traffic study were first proposed at a Planning Board meeting March 7, when residents voiced their concerns that the new business will create traffic congestion, predicting that its proximity to the interstate will attract out-of-town drivers.

“I think this is a lunatic idea,” resident Steven Finer said at the March meeting. “All this is based upon issues about the quality of life of the people who live here. And I’m, I think extremely concerned about what it will be when people who are already disgruntled are trying to navigate going on the road to travel west will have to deal with other travelers who are in a hurry to get somewhere. It just feels to me like the congestion is going to be frightening.”

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Residents’ skepticism over the accuracy of Kimley-Horn and Associates’ traffic study prompted the Planning Board to vote in favor of recommending to City Council a proposed decrease, from 3,000 to 2,000, in the daily vehicle trips threshold necessary for a development to require a Major Development Review. Had the amendment been approved, it would have defined the Starbucks as a major development that requires a more thorough traffic impact study. However, at its March 20 meeting, City Council voted 6-6 on the article, causing the amendment to fail without a two-thirds majority. Many of the councilors who opposed the amendment said it would act as a repellent for new businesses.

Immediately before voting to approve the site plan, Touloumtzis voiced an appreciation for the fact that the Friendly’s site would be re-used and not torn down and reconstructed.

“I wanted to also acknowledge that we always try to reuse, and you’re reusing this building,” Touloumtzis said. “It’s an environmentally friendly thing.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.