Despite objections from some residents, the Whitefish Bay Plan Commission Monday unanimously approved plans for a Dunkin' Donuts shop on Silver Spring Drive and Bay Ridge Avenue.
Dunkin' Donuts is the first tenant to come forward seeking a conditional use permit to open in the new Baysider Retail Center, which is currently under construction. The exterior design of the building and the business' signage still need to be approved by the Architectural Review Commission and the Community Development Authority.
Seven residents, most of whom live within a block of the location, voiced concerns about parking shortages and traffic congestion in the area, especially with the car and bus traffic at Dominican High School.
"At dismissal, with the one school bus that always comes to Dominican, it's very congested there. It's almost impossible to get down Bay Ridge, so I can only imagine how terrible it is in the morning with people dropping off their kids," said resident Jennifer Dawson.
The retail center will have three access points: one at Lydell Avenue, another at Bay Ridge Avenue and another on Silver Spring.
Assistant Village Manager Matt Schuenke acknowledged parking is a concern, but said his calculations determined the business' traffic numbers called for only one more parking space than is currently available.
In response, commissioners required the business to remove three seats to bring it compliance with the village's parking restrictions.
Other residents voiced concerns with a franchise fast food business opening up on Silver Spring Drive.
George Keppler said the approval of Dunkin' Donuts as the first tenant at the new retail center does not bode well for the future of the next three spaces available for rent.
"A higher-end retailer does not want to be next to a Dunkin' Donuts, they want to be next to a higher-end retailer," he said.
Resident Mary Buscher pointed to Whitefish Bay recently being named the 65th best place to live in the nation, and said one of the reasons the community is great is its unique, historic business district.
"That area is like our front door to this part of the village. I think we're already pretty homogenized between Glendale and Whitefish Bay," she said. "I would rather see another type of business in this setting."
Schuenke advised commissioners they are tasked with determining the appropriate “use” of the business, not whether they agree with the tenant overall. To reject a business based on anything other than what is stipulated in the village code could open up the village up to a lawsuit, Schuenke said.
“As long as it meets the guidelines of the ordinance, which it certainly does, it is an allowable use,” Schuenke said.
One of the residents at the meeting, Jen Keppler, said on Facebook that she would like to figure out how to voice an opinion about a business before it gets to the Plan Commission.
"Unless we change the code to better define what we desire in future retailers, we will only see more of this type of business," she said.
John Clark is the vice president of operations for Milwaukee Coffee Brewing Company, which is in charge of franchising the redesigned Dunkin' Donuts business in the Milwaukee market. He said the company opened the first new Dunkin' Donuts in Menomonee Falls recently, and also is targeting Oak Creek and the Miller Park area for future locations.
"I think Whitefish Bay is in need of a restaurant that will provide quick in-and-out service," Clark said. "For people that are on the go in the morning, they need a quick coffee and a snack and then get on with their day."
While some Patch readers voiced concerns over odors and grease associated with the donut baking process, Clark said all donuts are baked in Chicago and distributed to the new Wisconsin franchises.
Dunkin' Donuts initially asked to open at 5 a.m., earlier than the village's standard 6 a.m. retail opening time. Commissioners rejected that request, which means its hours would be comparable to similar businesses, such as Bruegger's Bagels, Stone Creek Coffee, Starbucks and The City Market. The business will close at 10 p.m.
Pam and Paul Opichka, the neighbors living immediately north of the retail center, said the later opening hours were more agreeable to them.
"We appreciate it being 6 a.m. instead of 5 a.m.," Pam Opichka said.