Plans to add a drive-thru lane at Kone King – a popular Center Road ice cream stand – were thwarted by the West Seneca Planning Board, which cited public safety concerns in dealing a 6-1 defeat to the proposal Thursday night.
“I don’t think it’s a good condition, I think it’s a dangerous condition,” Donald Mendola, a Planning Board member, told Kone King owner Gerard Jakubczak and James R. Bammel, the project’s architect. He said the drive-thru would create additional traffic problems at the corner of Warren Avenue.
Mendola and Chairman Robert Niederpruem Jr. did most of the talking for the board, raising concerns about “stacking” – the number of cars in a queue for the drive-thru window – as well as the impact on the neighborhood and intersection because of increased traffic and concerns for pedestrian safety.
“The concern I have – and I’m a Tim Hortons regular – is stacking,” Niederpruem said. “I have concerns about public safety on this one.”
Jakubczak, who has operated the ice cream stand for 37 years at that location, told the board that Kone King has never had any issues with accidents at its site despite its popularity and the fact that it draws large numbers of patrons during its peak season in the summer. He also took exception to his business being likened to Tim Hortons in terms of traffic.
“We aren’t Tim Hortons. We haven’t got the volume Tim Hortons does,” said Jakubczak, explaining that the coffee shop experiences its busiest times at morning rush hour, all year long. “Our busiest time is 7 p.m. For the morning drive time, we’re not even open.”
Jakubczak and Bammel also assured the board of plans to install picnic tables or railings on the eastern side of the stand to protect walk-up patrons from drifting into the drive-thru lane of vehicle traffic. They also argued that the traffic pattern with the drive-thru would be more organized and less haphazard than it currently is at the corner.
Two nearby neighbors – Robert Letina and Paul Briggs of Warren Avenue – also voiced their disapproval of the proposal.
Letina, who said he has lived at 95 Warren for 21 years, feared that backed-up traffic would cause undue congestion near his house, possibly preventing emergency vehicles from accessing it.
“We won’t even be able to get out of our driveways,” Letina said. “You’re lining everything up on Warren Avenue, and it’s busy enough.”
Briggs, a father of three daughters at 102 Warren, added: “I don’t think it’s appropriate. I just can’t see (the drive-thru) happening, especially with all the kids running around there and bicycles and all that.”
Gerald Greenan cast the lone dissenting vote, chiefly on legal grounds. The lawyer earlier made a reluctant motion to approve the drive-thru, but it failed for lack of a second.
Previously, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted Kone King variances for reduced parking spaces and set-back requirements, and the project received Erie County’s blessing with regard to traffic. The last hurdle standing in the way of developing the drive-thru was the Planning Board.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Jakubczak, exiting Town Hall. “We intended to do something that was going to improve our business. We had public safety in mind every step of the way.”
Jakubczak wouldn’t say late Thursday whether he intends to pursue legal action.