Rudy’s restaurant plan goes to City Council

       A Rudy's restaurant moved closer to opening southeast of 31st Street and Highway 24 after Planning Commission approval March 19.
       City Council will have the final say on the project - probably at its April 14 meeting, according to planner James Mayerl - after the council-appointed commission members approved the Texas barbecue chain's proposal for a zone change and a development plan to allow a restaurant, convenience store and service station on the 2.7-acre site.
       There was no citizen opposition to the Rudy's plan, although Mayerl admitted that a posting of the Planning Commission meeting had not been placed on the property, in contradiction to normal city practice. He did note, however, that postcards had been mailed out to nearby addresses.
       A city attorney said that the posting is not required under city law.
       The restaurant would not be near any homes. In fact, the property is across the street (Ore Mill Road) from a storage facility, and its current zone is industrial. The zone change request is for a planned business commercial zone, because a restaurant is not allowed in an industrial zone, Mayerl explained to the commission.
       The Planning Commission's one opposing vote was from Dan Cleveland. He disliked the size of the Rudy's sign, which will be 148 square feet (actually this is the combined size of two signs saying “Rudy's” and “Bar-B-Que”) atop a pole 35 feet higher than Highway 24. Both dimensions are within the city's maximums, according to Mayerl.
       Noting the proximity to Red Rock Canyon Open Space (on the other side of 31st Street), Cleveland said, “For people going eastbound, it will be the first sign they see coming into Colorado Springs. It's elevated and immensely huge.”
       Mayerl had recommended a shorter sign, about 12 feet high, because the sloping site when graded will be noticeably higher than Highway 24. However, a Rudy's representative said the larger sign was needed to attract motorists.
       Donald Magill, whose motion won the support of the commission majority, said that while the sign seems large, it's “consistent with what's there” now on Highway 24. Planning Commission Chair Richard Hansen noted that because there is a restaurant and a gas station, technically Rudy's could have asked for a second sign pole but did not. As for eastbound drivers “coming down from the foothills, they have to be able to see that business,” he said.
       Rudy's did not object to two other staff conditions, which Planning Commission approved. These are to pay for an extension to the westbound left-turn lane on Highway 24 (from 335 to 650 feet) for anticipated traffic going to the restaurant and to accept the condition that auto sales never be allowed in the commercial zone.
       Another agreement for project approval was to remove the hillside overlay zone from the site. Mayerl said it was not applicable, alhough the property does slope from Ore Mill Road to the highway. No commission member objected.
       Assuming council approval, Pete Basset, vice president of Rudy's, said after the meeting that the Rudy's management is “hoping to start construction late summer/early fall. We wanted to start last fall as well, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.”
       This would be the first Rudy's in Colorado. The chain has about 20 restaurants now in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Asked about the timing of the endeavor, considering the economy, Bassett said, “By the time we get open, we're optimistic that things will be on the upswing. If not, barbecue is a comfort food so we should be able to help improve everyone's attitudes until things do get better.”

Westside Pioneer article