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Commerce City, Drive-In Theater At Odds Over Traffic Hassles

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - A drive-in theater that’s in jeopardy of closing not because of sagging business but, rather, its overwhelming popularity is seeking a reprieve from the city.

The 88 Drive-In Theater, the last drive-in in the metro area and one of seven in Colorado, sees robust crowds and stretches of cars waiting to catch a movie.

That affection concerns police, who have cited numerous issues related to the theater, including traffic problems. Cell phone video titled “Dangerous traffic conditions” that aired at the meeting showed cars stretching from the theater, at 88th Avenue and Rosemary Street, back to Interstate 76 to the west.

An aerial view of 88 Drive-In Theater (credit: CBS)

An aerial view of 88 Drive-In Theater (credit: CBS)

The city said it doesn’t want to shutter the theater, but the city’s attorney said that could happen.

Susan Kochevar, the drive-in’s owner, says the city council isn’t hearing her concerns. By Monday night, she said she gathered 10,000 signatures that ask the city and police to stop pestering and penalizing the theater. The petition says police are asking her to modify the drive-in property to make up for the city’s “road maintenance inadequacies.”

As of Monday morning, the petition received more than 15,000 signatures.

“I have not been listened to at all,” Kochevar told the council Monday night. “I have been talked at.”

Susan Kochevar (credit: CBS)

Susan Kochevar (credit: CBS)

But a councilwoman said the traffic caused by the theater is a safety hazard.

“I started wondering if we had to evacuate this drive-in, I don’t believe we could have got people out in any less than 30, 45 minutes,” Councilwoman Jadie Carson said.

The city said it called Monday’s meeting because Kochevar had repeatedly ducked meetings to discuss problems.

“My business license has been threatened, and I’ve been threatened with citations for something I cannot control and have no legal authority to do,” she countered, arguing it’s the city’s responsibility to improve roads in the area.

A $50 million roads project is slated to fix some of the roads in the area.

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