A preliminary rendering of the proposed Aroma Joe’s location at 381 Bridgton Road. Contributed / Back Home Brew LLC

Aroma Joe’s just may be too popular for Prides Corner, the Westbrook Planning Board was told Tuesday.

A proposal to build an Aroma Joe’s drive-thru coffee shop at 381 Bridgton Road (Route 302) with an entrance on Brook Street drew concerns about backed-up traffic waiting to get in and the safety of exiting vehicles at an already busy intersection.

The Planning Board also heard plans for a 19-unit apartment building with business space on the first floor on Cumberland Street, at the site of the former Paul’s Shoe Repair.

Both projects are still in their early stages and will be back before the board for more review before the board votes on them.

Two residents at the meeting cited the traffic backups generated by the Aroma Joe’s drive-thru on Warren Avenue.

“On Warren Avenue, I’ve seen vehicles stacked to get into that Aroma Joe’s,” Prides Corner property abutter Steve Bradstreet said.

He also said the Brook Street entrance proposed is close too the intersection with Bridgton Road, where cars are normally queued up at the traffic signal, making for messy access.

“Much like Steve, I’ve been on Warren Avenue waiting to turn into the Aroma Joe’s there. It’s not about the coffee shop, that’d be great to have, but I don’t know if this is the best location,” resident Brenda Broder said.

Planning Board members Larry McWilliams and Robin Tannenbaum shared traffic concerns.

McWilliams said the intersection is “scary” as is.

“My concern is with all the traffic in this area, and I am for all businesses coming to 302, but this location here, I can see problems developing on Brook Street,” he said.

Tannenbaum said she would like to see traffic impact data from other franchises and is concerned because of how close the entrance is to the intersection.

Developers said the location will need approval from MDOT.

“(MDOT) determines at what level the study is needed. We haven’t done counts at this point or started a study,” said Sean Thies, representing Back Home Brew.

City Planning Director Jennie Franceschi said another project in the area will focus on fixing traffic issues, including traffic signals and additional turning lanes.

“DOT has prescribed times of the year they are requiring counts to be done and timeframes, so the applicant will comply with those through the process,” Franceschi said.

Aroma Joe’s offers coffee and some pastries but has no kitchen. The drive-thru would be one window with no intercom. The developers said they expect the maximum vehicle count in the waiting line would be about 13. The business would also have a walk-up window.

The location would create 15-20 part-time barista jobs, according to the  application with the Planning Board.

Thies said he would like to have the project back for a Planning Board vote in a few months.

A rendering of the proposed 10 apartment and four business building at 22 Cumberland Street. Contributed / Dwight M. Herdrich Architecture & Design

The board also weighed in on plans for a 3,908-square-foot, three-story building at 22 Cumberland St.

The first floor would have space  for four businesses and second and third floors would have five apartments each.

Access to the building will be on both Cumberland and Main streets.

The location is at the spot of the former Paul’s Shoe Repair, which relocated to Lisbon last year after 60 years on Main Street, and also includes some land directly across the street that the developers are planning for parking.

The building will be designed by DM Roma on behalf of Les Wilsons & Sons.

Franceschi praised the developer for taking advantage of a recent ordinance change that allows more housing downtown, while Planning Board members Jason Frazier and McWilliams complimented the building’s preliminary looks.

“This is the direction we were hoping it would go to get more people living in our downtown,” Franceschi said. 

Tannenbaum said she would like to see a good amount of greenery added to the final plans.

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