Starbucks to open Saturday in Rodgers Forge amid concerns about pedestrian safety

A Starbucks coffee shop will open in Rodgers Forge this weekend and with it a long-contested drive-through window that has drawn community opposition due to the potential for increased traffic.

In the meantime, Baltimore County police say they will post officers near the drive-through window on Monday to ensure the safety of students who will pass it as they walk to nearby Dumbarton Middle School and Towson High School.

The Seattle-based company’s newest coffee shop in Towson will open at the intersection of York Road and Regester Avenue at around noon Saturday, according to an employee who was at the site on Friday and referred media inquiries to its corporate office.

Starbucks officials did not return numerous requests for comment.

An existing Starbucks in York Road Plaza, about a half-mile south on York Road, has closed its doors in anticipation of this weekend’s opening at 6900 York Road. On Friday, the store’s interior was empty.

The Starbucks in Rodgers Forge replaces a bank and office building formerly on the site with a 1,562-square-foot coffee shop and a wraparound drive-through that has drawn concern from neighbors.

Baltimore County officials approved the project in April 2016 and the coffee company confirmed plans to open at the intersection in August 2016.

However, residents of nearby neighborhoods contested plans for the shop that included a drive-through window, citing concerns with potential traffic congestion and with pedestrian safety, and particularly the safety of students who cross the intersection on their way to and from Dumbarton Middle and Towson High.

In December, about 40 Residents from Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh and Anneslie protested plans for the drive-through window, saying that more than 200 students pass through the intersection before and after school daily, and calling for a traffic study.

Baltimore County officials deferred to the State Highway Administration, which oversees York Road, which is a state road. SHA officials said the department did not require a traffic study to approve the project.

In response to community concerns, State Del. Steve Lafferty, a Democrat who represents Towson, and Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said Friday that they have asked Baltimore County Police to be present at the intersection before and after school hours.

Baltimore County police spokeswoman Louise Rogers-Feher confirmed Friday that police will be at the intersection of Regester Avenue and York Road on Monday but could not immediately confirm when the officers would be on the site Monday or in the future.

Customers will enter the Starbucks site from the southbound lane of York Road.

Marks said he has also requested that the SHA officials install a left turn signal on eastbound Regester Avenue. A crossing guard is already at the intersection during school hours, he said.

According to an email provided by Marks from the Maryland Department of Transportation, the state agency will conduct a traffic study to determine if any changes are needed at the intersection to enhance traffic safety due to the Starbucks development.

The study should be completed by the end of the year, according to the email.

State Highway officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

Rodgers Forge Community Association Board of Governors president Kris Henry said the neighborhood group is still concerned about the safety of students.

The neighborhood association commissioned a traffic study in December, but did not release its findings to the public.

“The main fear is that someone on northbound York Road waiting to turn left into the Starbucks will see a break in traffic and turn quickly without making sure there are no pedestrians on that portion of the sidewalk,” Henry said in a Sept. 28 email.

On Friday, employees were putting the finishing touches on the interior of the store, building and stocking shelves and equipment and setting up menu boards and signs.

According to posted store hours, the Starbucks on Regester Avenue will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

This story has been updated.

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