Pinery reps meet with neighborhood

       A neighborhood meeting on the proposed Pinery at the Hill wedding event center drew a relatively small number of negative comments Aug. 12. Two of the Pinery leaders at the Aug. 12 neighborhood
meeting – Eric Allen and Dani Silvestro – pose with drawings that show how the planned wedding event center on the Bijou Street Hill would look.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The owners, who already operate a similar facility in Black Forest, plan to redevelop and add onto a 2 ¾-acre property with a long-closed restaurant building on a high point at 775 W. Bijou St.
       About 25 people came to the meeting, which had been called by City Planning because of the proposed facility's proximity to a residential area.
       On hand from the Pinery were Windsor Yellen, part of the family ownership group; Eric Allen, director of operations; and Dani Silvestro, a wedding coordinator who is to become general manager at the Pinery at the Hill.
       They pledged to secure the hilltop, which has been plagued by gangs, drunks and trash in recent years, and to provide a business that would be attractive, responsible and not bothersome to neighbors. Additionally, attendees (and any neighbors they knew) were invited to come out to the Black Forest Pinery the following Tuesday, Aug. 19 for a guided tour of the operations there.
       One of those who responded to this offer was Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN). “From a quality standpoint, the operation there is first-class,” he reported. He added that he was impressed the offer was given at all. “They didn't have to do this. They're making a good level of effort.”
       However, he noted that OWN will not take a position on the issue if the neighborhood is divided on it.
       The Pinery ownership chose the site primarily because of its views of both the downtown and the Westside. “There's not a bride who wouldn't want to be photographed in this venue,” Yellen commented.
       The business concept is providing a “one-stop shop” for a wedding, including the reception and other related aspects.
       Neighbor concerns included traffic, as well as light and noise from the groups using the center. “The deck on the south side has a perfect view into our house,” said Dan Novembre whose family lives in an old house on Hill Street, adjacent to the property.
       The Pinery group agreed to look into that situation, but noted that most activities will be indoors and the building will be soundproofed.
       Because of several neighbor traffic questions, Planner Meggan Yoest has recommended that the Pinery provide a “brief traffic analysis” to address issues such as when traffic will be heaviest and deliveries will be made.
       Yoest further explained that the application, seeking to amend the site's development plan, does not require Planning Commission review. However, the matter could go before the City Council-appointed body should city staff members approve it and someone filed for an appeal.

Westside Pioneer article