Cars wait at Starbucks, 1000 Post Road East, often backing up onto the roadway.
Cars wait at Starbucks, 1000 Post Road East, often backing up onto the roadway. / File photos

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday approved changes to the parking lot and drive-through at Starbucks that might alleviate traffic spillover onto Post Road East.

The exit driveway at 1000 Post Road East can now be widened by 8 feet so motorists can turn both left and right.

And the ordering screen and speaker will be moved up one car length to allow more time for workers to prepare orders, allowing the line to move faster and reduce backup.

Dave Lofrisco of Kimley-Horn Engineering, representing the coffee chain, said the tweaks in the application should provide a more efficient drive-through. He said Starbucks has studied the issue and that it should help.

“It will better accommodate the existing peak volumes,” he told the board. “It is not anticipated to increase customers using the site, just better handle, and more efficiently those peak volumes.”

Plans showing ordering station being moved forward.
Plans showing ordering station being moved forward.

The ordering screen will be shifted 20 feet further in the loop from the pickup window, allowing more time for workers to prepare the ordered drinks.

That also will angle the ordering station, and its speaker, away from residential neighbors bordering the south side of the property.

That speaker, a neighboring family wrote to the Planning and Zoning Department, has been an ongoing issue.

“There have been many businesses at this stie before Starbucks,” wrote George Llorens. “We did not hear all day ordering food and drinks. We have asked and called to let the staff at Starbucks know that the microphones are very loud and it is disrupting to us to hear the speaker that is so loud near our home. We are trying to have our peace and it is not possible. The back and forth between customers and workers is too much and too loud …”

Llorens asked the speaker be moved closer to the Post Road, which the plan does.

He had other concerns, including one common among homeowners bordering the Post Road corridor in many towns, refuse companies banging large trash bins around in the early morning hours.

Chairman Jim Ezzes said it’s surprising to see cars backed up on Post Road East when coming up the rise after the Sherwood Diner.

“If there’s any effort to try to alleviate that by a couple cars, works for me,” he said.

And, he added, the speaker being aimed toward the back parking lot of a commercial building next door should help the neighbors’ concerns.

“Any improvements are going to be helpful to us, and the public safety of the town,” said member Amy Wistreich.

“It’ll be interesting to see if one car-length does make the difference, and coupled with a widened exit,” she said. “I hope we’ll see an improvement.”

“It’ll be interesting to see if their studies pan out,” said member Joe Scordato. “You wouldn’t think that one car would make a difference but it could be that it’s enough to keep traffic moving.”

The driveway widening was earlier approved by the Board of Selectwomen, in its capacity as Traffic Authority.

The ZBA approved the application unanimously.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.