Parking, traffic concerns put restaurant plan on back burner
Plans for a major commercial development on the north end of Oriole Park hit a speed bump on Wednesday when members of Red Deer’s municipal planning commission raised concerns about traffic and parking.
Scott Builders Inc. had applied on behalf of Bradley Gabrielson for development approval for three buildings at the junction of Orr Drive and 66th Street. One would have a pizza restaurant and sports bar upstairs, with conference rooms below; another would consist of a convenience store and liquor store; and the third would contain two leasable commercial spaces.
The property, at 6852 66th St., is close to several hotels, as well as the Mohave Grill restaurant, Tim Hortons, Princess Auto and the Flying J station.
Gabrielson is seeking a relaxation of the minimum front yard setback and the maximum allowable area for a drinking establishment. He would also like the minimum required number of parking stalls reduced to 73 from 96.
Several commission members expressed worries about the resulting traffic, particularly with respect to Orr Drive.
“I’ve been getting a number of phone calls and letters regarding traffic on Orr Drive,” said Coun. Paul Harris, suggesting that now is the time to deal with this issue
Jim Marke, a citizen representative on the commission, expressed surprise that the city’s Engineering Department hadn’t requested a traffic study.
“I’m very much aware of this particular location,” he said. “The traffic there is bad. There’s a lot going on there.”
“I think the traffic in this area is horrendous,” agreed Peter Holloway, another citizen representative.
Inspections and Licensing supervisor Joyce Boon suggested that a traffic assessment for the area might have been performed previously.
Coun. Buck Buchanan questioned the adequacy of the 73 stalls proposed for the development. But development officer Vicki Swainson said the 96 stalls required under the city’s Land Use Bylaw was based on an assumption that the leased commercial space would be used for retail, and that might not be the case.
The commission voted to table the application for up to four weeks, during which time additional information can be collected about traffic impacts and the anticipated occupancy of the restaurant and bar. Administration was also asked to consider ways that access to the site from Orr Drive could be improved, the adequacy of the local storm sewer system, pedestrian routes through the parking lot and landscaping.
In 2007, Gabrielson received municipal planning commission approval to develop a building with a pizzeria and sports bar on the lot. That project never proceeded.