Costco concerns voiced PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:00
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Ted Johnson, President of TJ Design Strategies Ltd., makes a presentation on the final site plans for the Perrysburg Costco project during a Perrysburg City Council public hearing Thursday. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - With decisions on a Costco warehouse looming, supporters were outweighed by the sustained concerns of some residents who don't want the store at the proposed location.
Worries, largely about traffic, surround Costco's desired location at Ohio 25 and Eckel Junction Road, an already busy intersection where some people said road improvements won't be enough to alleviate problems at an already crowded location.
Costco wants to put a 154,000-square-foot store on horse farm property just north of Interstate 475 that is zoned C-4 Highway Commercial.
The city plans to speed up traffic by making $2.2 million in improvements including additional turn lanes, a portion of which will be paid for by Costco. Improvements will still only slightly improve traffic flow, with an anticipated rating of "D" representing the Ohio Department of Transportation's minimum acceptable standard.
Ted Johnson of TJ Design Strategies, Costco's consultant in the development, said the company's traffic studies support the proposed location, and ignoring a problem wouldn't make sense because of its impact on the store's members.
"We feel that this intersection is going to function for us. ... Our members come here every day, and we want to make sure our members can easily get in and out to shop our warehouse, because if they can't, they're not going to come.
In doing a traffic study, "we want to make sure the roadways will work for us not only when we open, but for the next 20-plus years," he said.
City council members, who will decide a required special-approval use for the site, listened Thursday to many residents who said they want Costco in Perrysburg, but at another location. Others gave their reasons why it should not move forward, while a few were emphatic in supporting it as-is.
The special-approval use comes with six requirements, some of which relate to traffic and enjoyment of surrounding properties.
Many insisted that traffic problems will persist, particularly residents of Callander Court, a neighborhood just across Eckel Junction Road from the proposed location.
Larry Small, who spoke on behalf of residents there, encouraged council members to vote how they would if they lived at Callander Court.
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Perrysburg resident Larry Small (left) makes a statement to Perrysburg City Council members.
"Consider how successful you might be if you tried to sell your home now that Costco is across the street. I think there will be a big impact there," he said.
"Please do not turn a blind eye because you're being dazzled by increased tax revenues to the city or the creation of new jobs."
While there will likely be some effect on property value, what matters in considering the special-approval use is whether Costco would have more of an impact than other commercial uses that would be allowed with no special approval, explained Mathew Beredo, the city's law director.
Among permitted C-4 uses are grocery stores, shopping centers, sports arenas and medical offices. Council member Todd Grayson suggested residents not focus on if the property should be Costco or a horse farm, but whether they would prefer Costco over any other uses that would require no special approval.
"All of them will come with traffic issues. ... It's a question of which business, not whether it's a horse farm or a business," Grayson said.
"I look at this from that view that it is zoned C-4 (Highway) Commercial, and I have to view this as - does Costco have a more deleterious effect than any of the other potential C-4 uses," Grayson said later in the meeting.
The project has been delayed as Costco negotiated with Columbia Gas Transmission about an easement Columbia has over its gas pipeline running underneath where the parking lot would be.
Columbia has approved Costco's layout and the two companies are now discussing "more technical details" of a plan to reroute the pipeline, Johnson said. Thursday's meeting was originally to occur in December, but Johnson said he did not want to move forward until there was "some form of agreement with the pipeline company."
He said it hasn't been determined when the pipeline will be moved. "I can't tell you if that's next year, two years or three years."
The special-approval use will be considered by city council at 6:30 p.m. March 25, a requirement of a retail store more than 60,000 square feet. Prior to a vote by a full city council, the planning and zoning committee will discuss the project at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
In addition, the city's Planning Commission will review the final site plan and will meet at 7 p.m. March 27, "which could, if all goes well for Costco, could wrap up their application," said Brody Walters, Perrysburg's zoning administrator.
Planning commission approved a preliminary site plan in November by a 5-2 vote, with Costco's proposed location receiving no votes from two members, at least one of whom did so because of traffic concerns.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 10:21
 

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