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1st Tim Hortons coffee shop proposed for Village of Lancaster

Double doubles, cafe mocha, and French vanilla cappuccino!

Coffee drinkers may soon have their first Tim Hortons coffee shop to indulge at in the Village of Lancaster, right in the heart of downtown at the corner of Central Avenue and Broadway.

At least a handful of them are already sprinkled throughout the Town of Lancaster, with one located at Walden and Central, a half mile away from the proposed site.

The site plan calls for the new Tim Hortons to be a 713-square-foot addition to the Sunoco gas station that recently re-opened at the intersection. If approved, it would be a drive-through around the back of the gas station, with no indoor seating. An outdoor patio with umbrella-styled tables and chairs is proposed along the Broadway side of the building.

“I’ve been advocating for a long time for something like a Timmy’s because there is nothing between Alden and Buffalo, along Broadway,” said James Allein, chairman of the Village Planning Commission and a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, which both will review the proposal later this month.

At the same time, Allein and others worry about the chances of a traffic bottleneck and stacking of cars that come with a drive-through.

“It’s a good thing, but I’m a little apprehensive about trying to put a size 12 foot into a size 10 shoe,” Allein said. “It’s just going to be tight. But yet, Tim Hortons likes tight locations.”

The proposal by Joga and Sukhnandan “Rani” Singh of Clarence is the latest of the chain’s franchise proposals in the Buffalo area, following a controversial one just approved a week ago for Dick Road in Cheektowaga despite objections by residents upset about traffic congestion. The Singhs hope to open another franchise at Bailey and Winspear avenues by their Sunoco station there.

“People could walk to it, and have said they would love a Tim Hortons,” said Joga Singh of his Lancaster plan. “We want a drive-through so it’s very easy for people to drive through. I think everybody would be OK with it.”

The Tim Hortons franchise in the village would double the space of the deli shop that is part of the gas station. The traffic pattern would likely begin on Central, with customers driving around the building toward Broadway, ordering and then circling around before exiting back onto Central Avenue. The drive-through window would be facing nearby Broadway Deli.

“How you stack cars for the drive-through is a little awkward and how you still keep gas pump access going, if you get a lot of cars,” said Michael J. Meyer, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission. “There is the impact of traffic in the Central Avenue business district, but we are more concerned about signage. I’d like to see what the Planning Board has to say about it.”

Because it would be located in the historic district, its sign faces review by the commission.

Before the Planning Commission meets Sept. 15 to review the proposal, the project architect must send letters to residents and businesses within 150 feet of the gas station’s property line. The Historic Preservation Commission reviews it Sept. 14.

“Everything impacts everybody. I’m not a big chain fan, myself, in a quaint village,” said Greyt Thuerck, co-owner with his wife, Michele, of the neighboring Lancaster Broadway Deli. “My concern is that Tim Hortons will have no problem getting in here because it seems there’s a whole new set of rules for small guys, and not the big guys. And how did Sunoco get big, bright lights and NASCAR flags. It’s not historically aesthetic and is right next to the biggest landmark you have here, the Opera House.”

Thuerck said business is tough enough. “I’m not a coffee house, but if someone wants to go to a Tim Hortons, there’s one every five minutes,” he said. “My bigger concern is it’s a chain, and anytime you bring something in that’s not a mom and pop (store), you’re changing the whole landscape of the village.”

Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce President John Chmarney said the primary issue is traffic. “They have every bit of a right to be there. I think they offer something different than our village merchants do,” he said. “But it all comes down to the congestion and whether it can be solved.”

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