Billings City Council vote clears way for new Pickle Barrel

2013-01-14T20:27:00Z 2014-08-25T08:02:56Z Billings City Council vote clears way for new Pickle BarrelBy ED KEMMICK ekemmick@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The developers of a new Pickle Barrel restaurant won City Council approval of a zone change request Monday night.

The council's unanimous vote paves the way for Richard McComish and other members of his family to open a new Pickle Barrel at 3225 Rosebud Drive. The family has been working to open a Pickle Barrel since the one on 13th Street West closed last summer.

The council approved a zone change from residential multifamily to neighborhood commercial, which was sought by the owners of the property — Stockman Bank and a number of individuals.

The city Zoning Commission had recommended approval of the change, but the move was opposed by the Planning Division and the city traffic engineer. Their concerns, which were shared by two neighbors of the lot who testified Monday, centered on traffic congestion.

The lot is near the intersection of Rosebud and 32nd Street West, and congestion there is already rated "F" during peak hours.

Ron Cox, of 625 Chokecherry Place, just north of the proposed restaurant, told the council that, given traffic problems on 32nd, it would be "an incomprehensible neglect of duty" to approve the zone change.

Rick Leuthold, an engineer and chairman of Sanderson Stewart, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said "the owner should not be held accountable for an existing problem."

He also pointed out that the property was formerly occupied by a church and then a day care licensed for up to 70 children. A traffic study showed that a Pickle Barrel would generate no more, and probably fewer, vehicle trips per day than such a day care, he said.

Zoning coordinator Nicole Cromwell also offered a clarification regarding projected traffic volumes associated with a Pickle Barrel. An estimate in a staff memo to the council said it could generate up to 1,400 vehicle trips per day, but Cromwell said that was based on general estimates for a conventional fast-food restaurant. A study said the Pickle Barrel would generate only about 310 trips per day, she said.

Rich McComish promised that his family would "do it right" in developing the property.

He also presented a letter he sent to the only owner of the property in question who opposed the Pickle Barrel plans, offering to help her with any tax increases and to make good any losses if she sells her home in the future and can demonstrate that the restaurant lessened its market value.

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