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story.lead_photo.caption A map showing the location of the Coler Mountain Bike Preserve

BENTONVILLE -- Amenities in Coler Mountain Bike Preserve are going to expand beyond the trails when refurbished barns provide places to pause and a cafe caters to hunger cravings.

The Planning Commission approved 5-1 plans for the Coler Homestead at its meeting Tuesday. The project will be on 29.4 acres in the nearly 300-acre preserve. The outdoor activity area will include trails, seating areas and a small cafe.

Commission action

Bentonville Planning Commission met Tuesday and approved:

• Lot splits on Southwest Morningstar Road and at 6349 Lee Harris Road.

• Property line adjustments at 807 N.W. A St. and at 811 N.W. A St.

• Plans for Gateway Park Warehouse 4 on Southwest Regional Airport Boulevard.

• Rezoning of 9688 Haxton Road from agriculture to single family residential.

• A permit for the Crystal Flats Greenhouse.

• A permit and large scale development plans for Southeast Phyllis Street Maintenance Yard.

Source: Staff report

No parking will be provided for the site. Instead, it will only be accessed by two trail heads, each about a half mile away, according to Erin Rushing, executive director of NWA Trailblazers. The Trailblazers own the property and are developing the project with grants from the Walton Family Foundation.

The cafe building will be constructed to the east of the two barns that will be refurbished. The cafe building will include restrooms and a rooftop garden and plaza, Rushing said Tuesday before the meeting.

"It blends into the landscape," he said.

Commissioners also approved a permit and to rezone about a half acre from agriculture to neighborhood commercial for the cafe building.

The cafe will not require a kitchen as it will serve food prepared off-site, according to meeting documents. The cafe will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk and will mainly serve Coler visitors.

A few nearby residents questioned the project and what else might be planned for the larger Coler preserve.

Winnie Bell lives just northwest of the property and expressed concern about the project creating more stormwater runoff and thus increasing issues when Coler Creek floods.

"It just seems to be that it's out of place," she said.

Barry and Ronda Greene, also near the property's northwest corner, said a representative from the Trailblazers spoke to their neighborhood's property owner's association and said there was going be a campground established and more parking to come.

Commissioners were unaware of of those plans. Tyler Overstreet, city planner, said no other plans had been submitted to the city as of Tuesday.

Commissioners Elaine Kerr and Tregg Brown expressed concern about voting for plans Tuesday after hearing there were more plans in the works. Brown recommended asking for a plan overview for the preserve to get a sense of the larger picture.

Other commissioners commented that's not a requirement for the requests on Tuesday's agenda.

A broader overview could be provided at the commissioners' Technical Review meeting next week, said Brahm Driver, civil engineer with Ecological Design Group working on the project.

Coler preserve will have 16 miles of soft surface trails and a mile and a half of hard surface trail, Rushing said. It's been under construction since January 2016. The first eight miles of soft-surface trail were open in time for the International Mountain Bicycling Association's World Summit when it was held in Bentonville in November 2016.

The barns on the Homestead should be open for public use by the end of this year, according to Rushing. Coler, as a whole, should be wrapping up in the summer of 2019.

"What's special about it is that it's five minutes from the downtown square, and when you're in the middle of it, you feel like you're in a national forest," he said.

NW News on 02/21/2018

Print Headline: Coler bike preserve to add cafe

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