Local Day-O Espresso chain owner Patrick Day is betting his new drive-through coffee shop along Parrotts Ferry Road will be a money-maker.
But to vocal Columbia citizen Marty Blake, Day’s latest foray into the coffee business could be “a Day-O of death.”
Both men reached the differing conclusions for the same reasons: The proposed coffee kiosk is in a location that sees numerous commuters heading to work in Sonora and Columbia. In addition, the kiosk is near Sawmill Flat Road, the primary public access point for Columbia College.
The completed kiosk is on the west side of Parrotts Ferry Road, near the site of a former restaurant and coin-op laundry. The address is 21770 Parrotts Ferry Road.
Blake is concerned about the new coffee shop because no left-hand turning lane or pocket is being built to accommodate it. He envisions a line of cars traveling north backed up almost to the Pedro Y intersection while they wait for a driver in need of his morning coffee to make a left turn.
But Day and county planners counter that Blake’s assessment doesn’t take into account other scheduled road improvements set to occur
before the new Day-O opens next month.
One potential deadly scenario that Blake envisions is a text-messaging college student en route to class suddenly stopping to make a left turn into Day-O and pulling in front of an oncoming big rig carrying logs.
Logging trucks are a common site between Arnold and Sonora, linked in part by Parrotts Ferry Road, he said.
“It truly frightens me,” said Blake. “If somebody gets killed, injured or maimed there, the county is going to be responsible, as is Mr. Day.”
Blake is also concerned that Day-O’s customers who are headed to Columbia or the college will have to make a left turn out of the parking lot onto Parrotts Ferry Road.
Day thinks Blake’s concerns are sensational and outside the mainstream.
“It isn’t like it’s created an outcry — it’s just one guy,” Day said. “This guy needs a life.”
Day said he explained to Blake the various safety improvements set to take place at the site before the new Day-O opens. So he was surprised when Blake recently appeared before the Board of Supervisors to declare his concerns.
Day said the kiosk was first proposed years ago, with the latest plan approved by the Columbia Area Planning Commission a year ago.
He wonders where Blake was back then.
The plan that was eventually approved for the kiosk is Day’s fourth in eight years. In the past officials did express concerns about a left-turn pocket at the site.
But Day’s latest plan — which includes creating a one-way entrance and exit, and building deceleration and acceleration lanes — took enough steps, commissioners said, to deal with traffic impacts.
In addition, planning commissioners tacked on nearly 40 other requirements for Day to abide by in order to operate the new Day-O.
Day said he looked at installing a left-hand turn lane in the past, but, at $100,000, it was too costly.
Blake said Day appears to have gotten “a sweetheart deal.” He also called the proposed deceleration and acceleration lanes “smokescreens.”
“If you want to go in there, buddy, pay for it,” Blake said.
County regulations generally require developers to pay for road upgrades to accommodate new businesses.
Day estimates he’ll have spent around $50,000 for safety improvements by the time his new Day-O opens.
A flood zone provides an added complication to placing a left-turn lane, according to Duke York, deputy director of the county Public Works Department, who worked on the Day-O project.
To create a turn-lane or turn-pocket, the drainage would have to be filled in with dirt, which, York said, would result in more runoff into Woods Creek, especially during storm events.
York noted that upgrades to Parrotts Ferry and Sawmill Flat roads are on the county’s long-term forecast.
York said Day’s plan provides “a way to minimize the impact.”
“He’s going to do physical improvements at the frontage, and he’s going to have to pay traffic-mitigation fees both for an area program and what he puts in,” York said.