During busy summer days in Teller County, 40,000-plus cars make the trek through Woodland Park on Hwy. 24 traveling back and forth from the Central Colorado Region.
During many of these busy days, it is common to see all of the fast-food restaurants that offer drive-thru service filled with long lines of cars during all times of the day.
However, this frustrating ordeal may partially end, especially for those who have a craving for Mexican food.
According to WP Senior Planner CJ Gates, the proposed site of the restaurant is located in the Brecken Heights Subdivision near Hwy. the 24 and Morning Sun Dr. intersection, across the highway from Walmart. Part of the project will be to build a 30-foot driveway off of Hwy. 24 for access to the restaurant.
The eatery itself will be mainly focused on drive-thru customers, but the plan also includes other types of dining. The 1,650 square-foot eatery will have four tables inside for dining, three umbrella-style patio tables for outdoor seating and 17 parking spots.
The building is proposed on a lot near the new subdivision, consisting of about 20 townhomes that are currently vacant.
The plan includes the construction of four public parking spots with trail signage. According to officials, they must also provide a sidewalk that connects the trail running along Hwy. 24 to the parking spots. In addition, they must provide a public access easement to the adjacent open space property.
Plans for the drive-through taco hub generated some questions during a recent council meeting.
The senior planner was first questioned about the access from the highway. Gates said that the access will come off of the acceleration/merging lane that already runs next to the highway coming from Morning Sun Dr. heading west.
Councilman Robert Zuluaga questioned why the project needed 17 parking spots when it only had seven tables for customers to dine on the property. Gates said that the parking requirements that come from the city are based on the square footage of the property. The number also requires a handful of “stacking spaces” for on-the-go diners that are required when a drive-thru establishment is built.
Mike Bramlett of JR Engineering, who was representing the applicant, attended the recent public hearing on the project and was prepared to answer specific questions. He said that the applicant, Fernando Morales, who currently owns the Woodland Park restaurant Judge’s Char Grill, was unable to make it to the Jan. 18 meeting.
“He (Fernando Morales) was able to attend a planning commissioner meeting and he gave a good vision for what he was wanting to do,” Bramlett said. “His vision is high quality, fast Mexican food primarily in a drive-thru setting but with a few small tables if people want to sit. The three umbrella tables on the patio I assume in the summer are going to be popular because the view is outstanding from that patio. The hours will be from 7 a.m. (so there will be breakfast) until 11 p.m.”
Other questions from council dealt with snow removal, and where the water supply would run. Bramlett reassured the council that all necessary requirements have been met.
During the recent meeting, one resident raised concerns about the extra traffic impacts for the Morning Sun Dr. and for an adjacent lot where storage units may get built.
“During tourist season it is going to be hard for people leaving Morning Sun heading west on Hwy. 24 to accelerate if somebody is decelerating to turn into that access road,” said the resident, who introduced herself as Linda. “Or somebody from that access road is also trying to get onto Hwy. 24. I really hope that council considers not just the drive-thru restaurant, but also the fact that it appears as though they are looking at storage units in that same location.”
The city’s senior planner said that the Colorado Department of Transportation is aware of the other projects proposed in that area. In the end, plans for the new Pikes Peak Taco got the go-ahead unanimously. (Mayor Hilary LaBarre was not present at the meeting to approve the project.)