SCARBOROUGH — On May 17, the Scarborough Planning Board approved a proposal for an Aroma Joe’s coffee shop for the corner of Saco Street and County Road.

Developers proposed a 1,000-square-foot coffee shop at 25 Saco St., said Jamel Torres, assistant planning director.

Aroma Joe’s, a drive-thru coffee company, has locations throughout southern Maine, including Portland and South Portland, according to the business’s website.

Traffic at the location could increase to 130 vehicle trips during peak morning hours, Torres said. The applicant, town of Scarborough and Maine Department of Transportation have agreed to off-site improvements due to the anticipated increase in vehicles.

Board members also discussed a town planned intersection improvement at County Road and Saco Street, which Angela Blanchette, town engineer, said had been delayed during the design process due to COVID-19 and a turnover of staff.

Blanchette said the intersection has capacity issues.

“… Aroma Joe’s was tasked with not making it worse, and so that’s where we’re at, trying to figure out how that might incorporate also with our town project and ways they can help accommodate that as well,” she said.

The site plan for an Aroma Joe’s location at 25 Saco St. in Scarborough. Courtesy photo

Abutting property owner Kathleen Vance said she had concerns about the businesses’ traffic, signage lighting, storm water management and potential headlights shining into nearby homes.

“I’m concerned when traffic exits out of their driveway, how it’s going to make a left-hand turn out of their driveway without holding up traffic, travelling Saco Street northbound, towards Brackett Road,” she said. “I’m worried about the possibility people are going to make a right-hand turn out of their driveway up to Saco Street, go down Vance street — I mean, it’s a town street, but it’s really our street — pull a u-turn on that street and therefore affect my houses that are on that street.”

The site plan has been in front of the Planning Board multiple times, said Rachel Hendrickson, vice chair.

“In terms of lighting at night and signage, one of the things the board does is really make sure that the standards that Scarborough has in its ordinances are met,” she said. “We’ve been meeting with these folks for the last two years, and traffic has certainly been an issue and storm water has also been an issue.”

Board member Roger Beeley said he supported the project as presented that evening.

“I don’t know that much about coffee shops, but I can’t imagine cars queueing up on Saco Street,” he said. “I don’t see that happening. I understand the abutter’s concerns, but I think everything looks pretty good at this point.”

The board unanimously approved the project’s site plan, and Blanchette said developers are planning to go to bid as soon as possible, but the store will not be able to open until improvements at Saco Street are made.

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