Five Corners could see a new TD Bank at the former Jimbo's restaurant site by next April if the company can satisfy lingering concerns about traffic that Planning Board members brought up at a meeting on Tuesday night.
Members voted unanimously to continue a public hearing on the development's site plan until Aug. 9. If the board approves the plan at that time, TD Bank can then file for building permits, with a goal of starting construction in early September and getting the 2,900-square-foot structure weather-tight for winter before completing work in the spring.
Unlike previous hearings on the proposal, when about re-zoning a piece of land from residential to business, only a few residents appeared at on Tuesday night, and all voiced their support for the project, though some offered critiques on the traffic plan and controversial setup of three drive-through lanes.
The three lanes will go under a separate canopy structure in the northeast corner of the plot. They will house solar panels, part of TD Bank's efforts to make the development energy efficient and seek certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Solar panels will also top the main structure's roof and there will be large windows to allow natural light and heating. In addition, the development itself will be composed of 35 percent landscaping, up from 15 percent currently, according to Josh Swerling, a project manager with Bohler Engineering. More than 200 shrubs and 14 new trees are proposed, and the company will keep eight maple trees that are around the residential border of the land.
"We're now advocates of the bank coming in," abutter Ronald Gates said of him and his wife Gail. "If you live next to a restaurant for a long time you'd understand why, especially one that's failing."
TD Bank is also proposing exit and entryways on West and Franklin Streets and hours of operation seven days a week. The bank would be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
A representative for the bank also insisted on the three drive through lanes, one of which is dual purpose and includes an ATM. TD Bank branches typically have three or four lanes. "Multiple lanes call for better customer service," attorney Carl Johnson said.
The three lanes proposal and traffic projections (a report suggested bank traffic would be considerably less than restaurant traffic) came under scrutiny from some of the board members. James Eng suggested the town revisit the site's traffic use after three months, while Darryl Mikami urged the company to provide more information on peak times.
Much of the concern centered around customers taking a left turn out of the West Street exit to go through Five Corners. This could cause backups and other dangerous problems, members and some residents said. A traffic expert hired by TD Bank argued that people would learn to take the easier right onto Franklin Street.
Michael McGourty, a nearby resident and previously a vocal opponent of the re-zoning plan, said after the bank's presentation that he felt more comfortable with the development.
It is a "welcome change" from what is there now, McGourty said. "We look forward to them coming here. We should move forward."