A number of Westside residents expressed frustrations about the Pinery at the Hill’s effect on the neighborhood last week at a meeting with the developer, owner and city planner assigned to the project.
Concerns about traffic garnered most of the comments about changes made to the original plans for the Pinery, 775 W. Bijou St.
Developers originally planned for the Pinery to be an event center, wedding venue and club overlooking downtown Colorado Springs from just west of Interstate 25.
Traffic engineers are evaluating the need for a three-way stop at Bijou and West Seventh Street.
Changes to those plans include it becoming a restaurant open to the public. Originally, the venue was to be open for private events. Other revisions include a new Dumpster location, a new fence around the property and variances from city regulations on the development’s office and parking for the office.
Pinery co-owner Windsor Yellen said at the meeting that she wants to protect the property by installing a fence, which had not been in the original plans. Yellen described windows shot out by BB guns, and $50,000 in landscape material eaten by neighborhood deer, so a 6-foot, chain-link fence should help, she said.
Neighbors said they were concerned about seeing the fence, after which Yellen said she’s in favor of planting more native species to hide the fence.
“It’s not just wildlife, it’s about vandalism,” Yellen said. Plans call for a 24-hour security-guard service to be hired.
The change to a restaurant will bring more traffic to the area, said Meggan Herington, planner with the city.
Neighbor Peter Dunn said a small directional sign should be installed at the base of the hill on Bijou to direct drivers to the Pinery.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” said neighbor Richard DeGrasse, frustrated about that idea.
“Just [an unlit] directional sign with an arrow,” Dunn responded.
Because of the possible traffic increase, city engineers are evaluating the need for a three-way stop at Bijou and West Seventh Street, Herington said.
That’s a poor place for a stop sign because it’s steep, said neighbor Cory Johnson. Since it’s an east-facing slope, wintertime travelers would have a difficult time at a stop sign there, he added.
Traffic studies should compare no traffic to current construction traffic, which is impacting the neighborhood negatively, Dunn said.
“It feels like we’re getting low-balled here, a little sleight-of-hand,” Dunn said. “I don’t know why you guys don’t lay it all out on the table. You will have to do breakfast, lunch and dinner with all the money you’ve invested.”
“I’m not big business,” Yellen responded. “I want you guys to like us.” She added that construction has been “hideous … I’ve been shot with BBs. I’ve had dogs released on me.”
“Well, maybe you came into the neighborhood full frontal,” said neighbor Tim Dolan.
Johnson interrupted the tense moment by saying, “Give them a chance.”
Yellen later said, “I don’t want to be a bad neighbor to you. I’m sad that it’s been a drag.”
“I think they’ve done a good job with the building,” said DeGrasse. “I can live with everything except the restaurant. It will increase traffic too much.”
“Already, it’s too much,” said Dolan.