Now Pinery wants to be a restaurant too
Neighborhood meeting on applications Sept. 11; previous city OK was for wedding/event center

       The Pinery at the Hill wedding/event center, set to open in late September at 775 W. Bijou St., would also become a restaurant under a revised proposal from the business owners.
       Colorado Springs Land Use Review has scheduled a neighborhood meeting on the new plan for the 3˝-acre hilltop site Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       In a Project Statement submitted to the city last week, Pinery architect Bruce Barr states that “the goal of this application [to the city] is to secure the restaurant use to be included as a stand-alone function that may not be part of a banquet/conference and is not part of a wedding event. Nothing in this application changes the building design or layout. This is merely an opportunity to maximize the restaurant business when weddings are not scheduled.”
       The Pinery had won approvals last year from City Council for a change of zone, a major development plan change and a nonuse variance - all of which allowed the property to be reworked and a former restaurant there to be remodeled into a building nearly twice its size. The owners, who have run a similar facility in Black Forest since 2007, described the operation as a wedding and event center that would also schedule business meetings and conferences.
       The restaurant proposal is one of several update requests in three applications to the city last week, including a request to remodel a duplex outside the Pinery entrance at Bijou and Hill streets that the owners recently bought for an in-house floral shop, office and storage space.
       No matter how the new applications fare with the city, the Pinery at the Hill will still be able to operatec under its current approvals. The business has announced that its first scheduled event will be Sept. 28.
       Meggan Herington of Land Use Review said she is still reviewing the new applications, which include an updated traffic study. Asked if she was surprised by the restaurant request, she said, “I definitely wasn't expecting it because it wasn't part of the development plan discussion last year.”
       The new traffic study, provided for the Pinery by LSC Transportation Consultants, claims that vehicle trips for the proposed restaurant use will be less than they were for the former restaurant on the site.
       Herington said last year's traffic study “didn't discuss how traffic would change if it was a restaurant.”
       The term “restaurant” appears in the condition of record that was part of last year's city approval, but only because the city does not have a code for wedding/ event centers, Herington had explained at the time.
       Barr's statement argues that the approved plan allows banquet space, up to 162 people and lunch conferences/banquets Monday through Friday. “At this point the discussion is a debate in semantics; conference, banquet or restaurant, they all involve food service; this site is restricted to food service.”
       The idea is for the restaurant to operate Mondays through Fridays, with the intent not to conflict with the Pinery's wedding events. Normally occurring Satur-days and/or Sundays, these have “exclusive use of the property,” Barr's statement reads.
       The current city approvals allow the Pinery to be open between 7 a.m. and midnight.
       The new applications are specifically for:
       - A minor amendment to the existing development plan, consisting of the restaurant proposal along with a dumpster relocation and changes to the entrance gate, landscaping and walkways.
       - A use variance “to allow a general office, storage and floral facility in a single-family residential structure [as] direct support services for the neighboring Bijou Street Pinery located adjacent to this site.” The duplex is zoned R-2 (residential).
       - A nonuse variance to allow an off-site parking space and to waive the ADA-accessible parking requirement for the floral building.
       According to Herington, “the variances to turn the house into an office and a flower prep area will go to City Planning Commission. The development plan amendment may go to Planning Commission.”
       Regarding the status of her review to date, she said, “there are a number of issues to work through. I don't have an opinion yet.”
       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), which had supported hill-area residents last year in expressing concerns to the city about the Pinery's planned building size and operations, is studying the new proposals and has not yet heard from the residents, according to OWN President Welling Clark. “A key concern would be the impact on the immediate surrounding neighbors; traffic, noise and late-night lights,” he said.
       To get the word out about the meeting, the city has sent notices to everyone living within 500 feet of the Pinery property, Herington said.

Westside Pioneer article