Proposed KFC rejected

May 12, 2022

The Colonel will not be coming to Dartmouth any time soon.

At its May 11 meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously voted to deny a KFC proposed for the corner of Route 6 and Tucker Road, citing additional traffic backups the franchise could bring to an area known for substantial blockages.

“There’s a significant problem not only at this intersection, but there may be a greater problem at the interaction down the road from here, which is Faunce Corner Road and Route 6,” Zoning Board Chair Michael Medeiros said. “I, in good conscience, cannot support a petition that would further impact that problem.”

Traffic issues were a primary concern nearly all residents brought up at the first public hearing for the proposed fast food franchise in March. To address the apprehension, applicant D.E. Foods had a traffic study conducted in the area.

The study, which was conducted in November 2021, found that wait times at the Tucker Road intersection would be minimally impacted by the addition of a KFC.

The Zoning Board had the study peer-reviewed by the Pare Corporation, an engineering firm based out of Bristol, R.I.

According to Rebecca Brown, a project manager at GPI, Pare found that their study was “appropriate,” with only minor comments on sightlines she said would have been addressed.

Neither study accounted for traffic heading eastbound from the Faunce Corner Road intersection.

Select Board Member Shawn McDonald said he felt the traffic study was a nice tool in practicality, but failed to address the human element of traffic on Route 6.

“Right now, people coming out of Tucker Road coming onto Route 6 block the intersection,” he said. “With another business on the opposite side — you’re going to have competing access to Tucker Road.”

McDonald added that drivers even currently the breakdown lane to get into the queue to take a right-hand turn.”

Attorney Richard Manning stood by his client’s study.

“Nothing that we proposed on this site will impact current traffic issues at that intersection,” he said, adding that complaints were based on hypotheticals and assumptions. “We’re presenting you with a traffic study which is fact-driven.”

According to Brown, many of the study’s findings were done with the assumption that the state’s plans to alleviate backups with new traffic signals at the intersection at Route 6 and Hathaway Road would be implemented within five years of a potential opening.

The project is currently at the 25% design phase, with construction expected to begin in late 2023 or early 2024. 

McDonald was less optimistic about the state’s plans.

“It’s woefully inadequate unless you realign Tucker Road,” he said. 

Planning Board Chair Kevin Melo agreed, adding that while the state has made plans to lessen traffic jams, there have been many plans presented over the years.

“I believe this is the third rendition of what the state may or may not do,” he said. “To base a decision that the town has to live with indefinitely… [it’s] a concern.”

Melo, along with the Zoning Board, encouraged D.E. foods to withdraw its application and come back at a different time.

Manning instead opted to have the board vote in a last-ditch effort to change their minds.

“We don’t have the luxury [of] withdrawing and hoping DOT does something in the future,” he said. “This property is going to sit there — you’re restricting the use of the property based on assumptions and hypotheticals when the facts dictate otherwise.”

Other speakers, including McDonald, suggested that the applicants look elsewhere in town where there would be fewer traffic problems.

“You’re more than welcome to come into the town at any time, but not in this location,” McDonald said.