Red Deer’s municipal planning commission continues to go around on the issue of traffic roundabouts.
On July 6, the commission considered an application by Melcor Developments Ltd. to remove a proposed single-lane traffic circle from the Sunnybrook South neighbourhood area structure plan.
Melcor said the feature would result in nine residential lots not having front access for vehicles, rendering those properties unmarketable for home builders.
Members of the commission expressed reservations about eliminating the roundabout, arguing that it was an attractive feature. Suggestions that the roundabout might be modified to address the problem prompted Public Works manager Frank Colosimo to warn that an unsatisfactory “hybrid” could jeopardize the use of roundabouts in future developments.
The commission decided to table the matter so that additional information about design alternatives could be brought forward.
On Monday, Gregg Broks, development manager of Melcor’s land development division for the Red Deer region, told the commission that his company had consulted a roundabout expert and assumed that only three lots would be subject to front-access restrictions.
“We were surprised and disheartened by their (Engineering Services’) feedback.”
Broks said the parking restrictions near the roundabout would create problems, and design changes probably aren’t the answer.
“We weren’t willing to par down the roundabout in order to shoehorn something into this plan.”
Broks added that a roundabout might not be the amenity some assume, since its centre area is too small to support much landscaping.
If a traditional intersection were substituted, he said, Melcor would have the opportunity for additional tree-planting on nearby boulevards.
Nonetheless, city manager Craig Curtis said he would like to see Melcor work with the city’s Engineering Services Department to reach a compromise.
“I think it would be really unfortunate to lose this as a central feature in this neighbourhood,” he said, recalling how enthused city council had been about the prospects of such a feature.
Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer agreed.
The commission voted to table Melcor’s application for up to two more weeks so that it could seek a solution.
Ultimately, the matter will be decided by city council, with the commission only providing a recommendation.
The Sunnybrook South subdivision, which is called Southbrook, is located north of 19th Street and west of 40th Avenue.