Drive-thru, Shell station proposed for South and Lincoln in Cranford

A Shell gas station with a drive-thru Dunkin’ restaurant — one with only a counter and no seating — has been proposed for the southeast corner of Lincoln and South avenues in Cranford, on the border with Garwood.

CRANFORD, NJ — The vacant gas station site on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and South Avenue West may be replaced with a Shell station and Dunkin’ drive-thru if plans presented to the local Zoning Board at the April 22 meeting are approved.
The applicant, Iselin Realty, is proposing a three-pump station and a Dunkin’ that doesn’t include any indoor or outdoor seating.

Inside the proposed one-story, 1,000-square-foot coffee shop would be a counter for walk-in service. The site would have three parking spots.

“The intent is that people will either use the drive-thru or run in to grab coffee while they’re getting gas,” John Palus, the engineer for the developer, said.

Two additional parking spaces will be provided, plus three employee-only spaces, for a total of eight spaces on the triangular site. Both establishments will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and site plans call for a brick wall that says “Welcome to Cranford” in the front of the property. Garwood borders the site on the north side of South Avenue and the west side of Lincoln Avenue.
A major concern among board members was about potential drive-thru congestion, similar to that at the Starbucks entrance on the east side of town, where queuing cars often extend off the property and onto North Avenue at rush hour.

Palus said the Dunkin’ drive-thru would have two lanes accommodating up to 14 cars. There would be one speaker for placing orders, and the lanes would merge into one, decreasing the chance of traffic spilling onto South Avenue.

The applicant proposes relocating a bus stop and bench to accommodate an ingress only from South Avenue West. The No. 59 bus line stop relocation must be approved by NJ Transit, according to Palus.

There are currently four driveways on the property and the applicant proposes reducing that number to three: an ingress only and an ingress-egress on South Avenue, and a right-turn only into and right-turn only out of the lot on Lincoln Avenue.
Along the east edge of the property is an existing structure that served as a vehicle-repair shop and will be torn down.
Several residents attending the meeting voiced their concerns about traffic, delivery times for the Dunkin’ restaurant and Dumpster pickup during off-peak hours.

Wendy Walsh, a Lincoln Avenue resident, told the board that there is already significant traffic in the morning in the area that will increase with the addition of the Dunkin’.

Burnside Avenue resident Keith Dorans, who lives adjacent to the proposed project, was concerned about the anticipated 5 a.m. doughnut deliveries for the Dunkin’ and refueling for the gas station portion.

“That’s a lot of trucking that early in the morning and my bedroom window overlooks the site,” he said.
The coffeeshop and gas station application comes more than two years after the Planning Board denied a request to erect a 7-Eleven convenience store at the same site. A full-service Dunkin’ restaurant is located less than one-quarter mile east of the site in the Cranford Square shopping plaza on South Avenue.

Due to time constraints at the almost three-hour meeting, the developer’s planner, traffic engineer and the Dunkin’ franchisee will testify at the June 10 meeting. At that time, it is expected that the board will vote on the application and variances requested.