Proposed roundabout proves controversial

The developer of Red Deer’s Southbrook subdivision wants to do a 360-degree turn on its plans for a traffic roundabout in the new community.

The developer of Red Deer’s Southbrook subdivision wants to do a 360-degree turn on its plans for a traffic roundabout in the new community.

However, members of the city’s municipal planning commission are balking at this change in direction.

Melcor Developments Ltd. is seeking to amend the Sunnybrook South neighbourhood area structure plan to eliminate the single-lane traffic circle that was to be developed in the south Red Deer subdivision. Instead, it wants a traditional intersection at the site where two collector roads will meet.

The commission was being asked to recommend the plan amendment to city council.

Bill Thomas of Al-Terra Engineering Ltd., which represented Melcor at the meeting, said the city’s Engineering Services Department has indicated that nine residential lots surrounding the roundabout will not be allowed front access for vehicles. This restriction will make those properties unmarketable, home builders have told Melcor.

Southbrook is north of 19th Street and west of 40th Avenue. Its eastern section is already under development but work has yet to begin on the area where the roundabout is planned.

The commission was told that the proposed change would not otherwise affect Southbrook’s transportation system, or its land-use pattern, density or housing mix. But it also heard that traffic roundabouts promote safe, continuous movements of vehicles and are easier for bigger vehicles like buses and trucks to negotiate.

Commission member Doug Janssen added that a roundabout in Southbrook would be an attractive feature for the neighbourhood and he doesn’t want to see aesthetics sacrificed in the interest of profit.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Community Services director Colleen Jensen wondered if the Southbrook roundabout’s design could be modified to address the lot access issue.

Public works manager Frank Colosimo expressed reservations about this solution, pointing out that a “hybrid” that doesn’t work efficiently could jeopardize the future development of traffic roundabouts in the city.

“I’m a great believer in roundabouts,” he said.

The commission voted to table the application for two weeks after city solicitor Nick Riebeek suggested that additional information about design options and their impact might be helpful.

A traffic roundabout is also planned for the new Garden Heights subdivision being developed by Melcor north of 67th Street and east of the Red Deer River.

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