County gives thumbs-up to new Dunkin Donuts on Telegraph Road

Future Dunkin Donuts location

A Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-thru has been approved to move into a vacant building next to Hayfield Secondary School.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in a vacant building on Telegraph Road near Hayfield Secondary School.

The property, which served as a bank for many years, is located at 7710 Telegraph Road (see map). It sits between a 7-Eleven and the school, and across the street from Fort Belvoir. The building has been vacant since 2015.

The building, which was constructed in 1973, will retain its look but see small changes such a front entry canopy, new lights and signage, and landscaping upgrades. A fenced dumpster area will also be added, and the drive-through area will get modifications.

Click to enlarge. (Fairfax County Planning and Zoning image)

The new restaurant will operate from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and have a 22-person seating capacity. It will employ about 15 people. 

Traffic concerns raised

The county board needed to approve the proposal because while the land was already zoned commercial, a special exception was needed for it to be used as fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru. Prior to the county board’s approval, the county’s planning and zoning commission voted in favor of the project as well.

Some neighbors in the area of the Dunkin’ Donuts site expressed concern about the proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting, citing already-heavy traffic on that portion of Telegraph Road as well as pedestrian safety issues — particularly for students leaving Hayfield. The residents showed video and provided a petition signed by other neighbors nearby.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said the concerns expressed about traffic on that stretch of Telegraph Road were valid.

“Everything you said is absolutely true,” McKay said following the testimony, noting his children attend Hayfield Elementary. “I’ve personally witnessed it.”

However, McKay said none of the existing problems would be exacerbated by the Dunkin’ Donuts. McKay said the root cause of that area’s congestion, particularly for the surge in afternoon northbound traffic in the last few years, was the opening of Jeff Todd Way, which allowed traffic exiting Fort Belvoir to more easily access Telegraph Road.

“The unprecedented northbound evening traffic generated by the opening of Jeff Tood [Way] … has completely changed that community in a negative way,” McKay said.

McKay said the restaurant proposal was better than many of the alternatives that another theoretical by-right development (a development that wouldn’t need county approval) on the site. He also said that he had met with county staff to address some of his concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety at the site. One developer concession was to narrow one of the entrances to the site for pedestrian safety, as well as to modify the traffic flow through the site.

“This case is not perfect,” McKay said. “But it’s about as improved as we can get.”