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Drive-in theater proposed for Commerce Parkway

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By Amanda Manning

 The show must go on and The Sauerbeck Family Drive In hopes that with a new proposed location a drive-in theater will.

Stephen Sauerbeck and Jim Carpenter have filed an application to place the Sauerbeck Family Drive In at the 2300 block of Commerce Parkway. 

“We think it’s a viable business opportunity for our area to provide family orientated entertainment services for Oldham County,” Sauerbeck said.

A drive-in movie theater was proposed previously by Sauerbeck for Old La Grange Road, but that location received pushback from the public, which resulted in the postponement of the project last year.

The project was opposed at La Grange Road by nearby residents and others who were concerned about traffic, noise and the nearby train.

The new proposed location on Commerce Parkway sits on approximately 30.7 undeveloped acres, adjacent to businesses, according to the application.

Sauerbeck said that they are not expecting backlash from the public this time around. 

Sauerbeck and Carpenter have filed a conditional use permit application to place two viewing screens on the property, along with parking, ticket booths, two 10 by 10 foot projection buildings, and a building that will hold restrooms and concessions.

“The location for this use is desirable,” the application states. “The close proximity to local and interstate roads provide access for nearby residential populations as well as for the rest of Oldham County and Jefferson County.” 

The application also contains a waiver of regulations, where Sauerbeck asks the planning commission to allow gravel in the parking lot instead of asphalt or concrete pavement, noting the cost of pavement would be a hardship on the applicant, as well as a deterrent to the atmosphere of the attraction. 

“The unique experience of going to the drive-in is about family time having a more relaxed, slow-placed look at the past,” the application states. “The look and feel of a paved theatre site quickly becomes a large parking lot similar to that at a shopping center.”

Sauerbeck says that a gravel lot will add to the experience. “A drive-in is meant to get out of the car. A lot of people will enjoy sitting outside and asphalt gets hot in the summer,” Sauerbeck said. “It’s traditionally the surface used for a drive-in.”   

The waiver application also asks for the elimination of the required interior landscape areas so moviegoers can have a clear view of the screen and a reduction in the requirements for sidewalks, as they anticipate little use. 

The application also states that there should be a minimal impact on traffic because the drive-in theater will only operate in the evening, outside of peak traffic hours. 

If approved, the theater will be built in two phases, with one screen being constructed at a time. Phase one of the drive-in will hold 450 cars, while phase two will allow for 350. 

The Oldham County Planning and Zoning Commission will meet on April 25 at 9 a.m. to discuss this application. The meeting is open to public, who can speak for or against the proposed development.