A zoning hearing regarding the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts in Oley was abruptly halted Tuesday when an attorney for an objecting party said the applicant had not filed the proper paperwork with the township.
This was disappointing news to the more than 40 people who came out to the Oley Township Municipal Building to hear plans to turn the former Legion Diner on Route 73 into a fast-food restaurant.
Developer Mark J. Zlocki of ARod Entities LLC, Douglassville, submitted an application seeking a special exception request for a restaurant/bakery and drive-in restaurant and five variances for signs and parking. The application was the subject of Tuesday’s zoning hearing.
But the board never got to hear from Zlocki or his attorney, Dan Becker. No sooner had the hearing gotten under way when attorney Paul Ober, representing the Gotwals family, owners of Brook Ledge, a horse transportation company, and Pine Brook Farms, a hay business, asked members of the board to dismiss the application for failing to provide plans and a drawing as required by township ordinance.
Becker argued that a plan had been submitted to the township and that a rendering attached to the application was sufficient to comply with the ordinance. In addition, he said the plans had already been commented on by a township engineer and that several meetings with township supervisors had been widely reported.
“The applicant is not trying to surprise anybody in this proceeding,” Becker said. “Mr. Ober had more than adequate time to review the application.”
But Ober didn’t back down, saying he had never seen plans or a drawing and that they were not attached to his copy of the application. He further stated that when he asked the township for the documents, he was told there were none.
“You’ve got to construe the zoning ordinance as it is written,” Ober said.
After a brief recess, Becker returned to say he had consulted with Zlocki and that while both believed the application met the requirements of the ordinance, they would agree to a continuance of the hearing.
The news sat well with resident Particia Fry, who came to the meeting to find out more about the project and was glad to see Ober holding the board’s feet to the fire.
Fry, who has lived at 498 Main Street for 21 years, says she isn’t against the restaurant, but wants to see it done right. “I want it done within the historic parameters,” she said. “I want them to do it right.
“I don’t want to sit on my back porch and be able to hear them ordering food and drinks.”
Support for the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise has been mixed, with residents mostly concerned about noise and traffic. Others expressed mere curiosity about the possibility of Oley gaining its first fast-food restaurant, especially in light of the municipality’s status as a historic district.
While some were in favor, others -- like William Gotwals --don’t want to see the franchise come in at all. When asked what his family’s objections to the project were, Gotwals quietly responded “some of everything.”
The hearing will continue on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the township’s municipal building.