Winthrop officials have approved an application from a developer to open a Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street, ending seven years of discussions about the possibility of the popular drive-thru coming to town.

In early September, the town’s Planning Board approved the application from the developer, Tom Ellis, to open a Dunkin’ Donuts at 377 Main St., in a building that used to house a Bank of America branch and that still includes several drive-thru lanes. The building is between the Hannaford supermarket and the plaza that includes Pepper’s Garden & Grill, and across the street from a Rite Aid Pharmacy.

The project still requires several permits before it can go forward, including one from the state fire marshal’s office, said Mark Arsenault, code enforcement officer in Winthrop.

If the project proceeds, it will join several other recent changes that could influence the traffic patterns in that part of Winthrop.

Over the summer, multiple accidents were reported after the reconstruction of the intersection at U.S. Route 202 and Main Street, and the Fire Department is building a new station just west of that intersection on U.S. Route 202.

Tom Watson drives past that intersection often on his way to Lewiston from his home in Waterville. He said he isn’t too concerned about the added traffic a new Dunkin’ Donuts might bring, because there’s been enough time to plan.

“I know people like their coffee and their doughnuts, but I trust people will be responsible and safe when entering and exiting the location,” Watson said while picking up a few items at Hannaford. “There should be signage and maybe some public meetings to discuss people’s concerns, so it should be good.”

Not everyone, however, thinks the problems will be minimal when the new location opens.

Sherry Bloom, of Augusta, said people are “a little crazy” when it comes to getting their coffee in the morning, so she is concerned about an increase in traffic and traffic accidents. She was nearly rear-ended last week in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Western Avenue in Augusta and said she can foresee that kind of incident happening in Winthrop.

“There’s a lot of morning congestion because of the grocery store, and when you add in Dunkin’, you increase the possibility for something like a fender-bender or rear-ender,” she said. “I hope the town officials have really thought this through and have plans in place before it opens.”

John Davidson Thomas, who has a summer place in Winthrop, said he’s concerned about the increased congestion a Dunkin’ Donuts would bring. “People around here have been talking about getting this type of place since I can remember, so they’ll be excited, but hopefully not haphazard,” he said. “Everyone will be looking forward to it, but they need to exercise caution.”

Local officials have been discussing for years the possibility of a Dunkin’ Donuts opening in that location.

The minutes from a Town Council meeting in January 2010 indicate that “the former Bank of America building is proposed to be a Dunkin’ Donuts,” and the Maine Department of Transportation granted a traffic movement application for the project in April 2010.

About a year ago, the town considered an earlier application for a Dunkin’ Donuts at that spot, said Rick O’Brien, chairman of the Planning Board.

O’Brien recalled that the Planning Board rejected that earlier application for a conditional use permit because the applicant didn’t account adequately for parking and vehicle access.

“When they came back (this year), they had largely resolved those issues,” O’Brien said.

The applicant, Tom Ellis, of Brewer Holdings LLC in Hermon, didn’t respond to voicemail messages left at the phone number on his application, or to a message left with one of the employees at his firm.

Brewer Holdings LLC is the owner of the property, according to the town’s tax records.

According to Ellis’ application to the Planning Board, the Dunkin’ Donuts would employ six people and include 27 parking spaces. It would have a gross floor area of 2,300 square feet.

The business would have one drive-thru lane and get an estimated 219 trips during the peak hour of a weekday morning, according to the permit the project received from the Maine Department of Transportation in 2010.

O’Brien didn’t know when the project’s developers would begin the conversion of the old bank building if they receive their other permits.

“It seemed to me they wanted to get going,” O’Brien said. “My impression was they didn’t want to sit on their hands on this.”

Staff writer Jason Pafundi contributed to this report.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

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Twitter: @ceichacker