Plans for a Starbucks near the intersection of Cook and Lorain roads took another step forward, winning unanimous approval of the city’s planning commission on Nov. 10.
The commission voted 5-0 after officials reviewed a 184-page traffic study completed by TMS Engineers Inc. of Twinsburg.
The commercial strip, bounded primarily by Interstate 480 to the east and University Hospitals North Ridgeville Health Center to the west, continues to grow and add traffic.
The study estimated Starbucks could generate 198 car trips during the morning peak hour from 7:15-8:15 a.m. and 97 trips in the afternoon peak hour, 4:45-5:45 p.m.
The city required the study prior to any approval of the Starbucks project.
The project now must be approved by City Council, which was to meet Tuesday.
The potential Starbucks would sit south of the Marathon station at the intersection of Lorain and Cook. Construction could begin in the spring with approximately a year needed to complete the project.
During the virtual commission meeting, public comments were collected via Facebook and email. Residents and commission members alike spent a lot of time comparing the potential North Ridgeville Starbucks with the Dunkin’ franchise on Lorain just east of the Lear Nagle Road intersection. Traffic entering Dunkin’ regularly backs up onto eastbound Lorain.
James Martynowski, representing developer the Osborne Capital Group of Mentor, repeatedly said the same traffic situation with traffic pushing out onto Cook will not occur near the Starbucks location. The new shop, he said, will have space for 25 cars to wrap around the building as they drive up to order and receive drinks and food. Dunkin’ only can accommodate 15 cars in its wraparound.
Martynowski further predicted Starbucks will draw some traffic away from Dunkin’, possibly helping to ease traffic congestion on Lorain. Further, unlike Dunkin’, he said Starbucks has a robust and popular order-ahead system. Those customers will park in the lot, go into the store, retrieve their purchases and leave. They will not add to the number of cars lining up around the building.
In a Facebook comment read during the planning session, resident Jill Zuk offered the opinion that Cook cannot absorb the additional traffic Starbucks will attract.
Her thoughts were echoed by resident Frank Toth, who said in an email, “I am concerned about the impact this will have on Cook Road.”
The traffic study shows there are already 2,260 cars passing through the Lorain and Lear Nagle intersection during the morning peak hour and 3,086 cars moving through the same intersection during the afternoon peak hour.
Peak hours were determined by a car count completed Oct. 6 in 15-minute intervals between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. In its report, TMS said it counted all forms of traffic from cars to cyclists.
Regarding worries about traffic potentially backing up onto Lorain as drivers try to make a right turn onto Cook to reach Starbucks, Martynowski said an existing traffic light will control that theoretical issue.
The project won support from Mayor Kevin Corcoran.
“From the administration standpoint, they are welcome to town,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran said he plans to visit the Dairy Queen at 32936 Center Ridge Road, where cars regularly spill out onto the street.
“It happens,” Corcoran said. “It’s not a perfect world. All we can do is work with the businesses.”
Planning commissioners compared the proposed North Ridgeville Starbucks to an existing Starbucks on Lorain in North Olmsted. Officials said that Starbucks seems to attract plenty of business but has enough wraparound space that cars do not often spill onto Dover Center or Lorain roads, both of which have access points to that location.
The North Ridgeville Starbucks would not have any access to Lorain. The traffic report states the Starbucks driveway will sit as far south of Lorain as practical.
On Sept. 24, the city’s Board of Zoning and Building Appeals approved a lot split, which Osborne said was needed for the project.
With the lot split, Osborne’s plans refer to Parcel A, which consists of 28,020 square feet, as the home of the new Starbucks. Parcel B covers 31,320 square feet.
Osborne plans to remove an existing metal building on Parcel B, according to plans filed with the city. The drawings do not reveal any specific use for the property, listing only “future development.”
Martynowski told the planning commission that Osborne still has no plans for that site.
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