In front of a packed city council chambers, the Perrysburg Planning Commission on Thursday approved a preliminary site plan for a Costco store by a vote of 5-2, and recommended that Perrysburg City Council approve a special-use permit for construction to move forward.
The approval came after some recommendations from planning and zoning administrator Brody Walters, including minor elevation changes, adding benches to a sidewalk area, and additional landscaping on the north and east side of the store.
Commission members Byron Choka and Greg Bade voted no on the preliminary site plan and on recommendation to council for the special-use permit, which the company needs to build a retail store in excess 60,000 square feet.
PHOTO GALLERY: Perrysburg Planning Commission discusses Costco
“I don’t believe it met the requirements for the special-use permit with property value,” Mr. Choka said after the two-and-a-half hour meeting. “I couldn’t approve it without meeting that requirement.”
Many residents voiced their concerns — most which had to do with adding traffic to an already busy intersection.
“We will not be able to pull out on a red light,” said Larry Small, who lives nearby the proposed site on Eckel Junction Road.
“It is already a mess and has heavy traffic.”
Costco, a membership-only warehouse store chain with groceries and other products, proposes to purchase 28 acres and construct a 154,300-square-foot store and accompanying gas station. The site plan shows one entrance off State Rt. 25 and two entrances and an exit on Eckel Junction Road. The store would be adjacent I-475/U.S. 23, near the northbound exit ramp to Route 25.
Ted Johnson, representing Costco for TJ Design Strategies, said a traffic study Costco provided showed that 80 percent of the traffic would be coming from the south with only 5 percent coming in on Eckel Junction.
Perrysburg resident Chris Vogel said it is “ludicrous” to think there will be no growth in traffic coming from the off ramps of I-475 and U.S. 23 — something he said he saw in site plans.
Several local businesses owners spoke during the meeting about the traffic problems Costco will bring at that location.
Walt Churchill, owner of Churchill’s Market across from the site plan location, said he’s not afraid of competition, but is concerned it won’t be easy for drivers to get around the area.
Mayor Nelson Evans, who voted in favor of the plan, said property owners are already in a commercial zone.
“[The residents] already have commercial next to them, and it is zoned commercial,” he noted.
He did say, however, that he has the same concerns as others about traffic congestion.
Residents will get a chance to express their opinions again at a public hearing before the city’s council meeting at 6 p.m., Dec. 17.
Consideration of a final site plan is expected to be on the planning commission’s December or January meeting agenda.
Mr. Johnson said they are hoping to open the store next fall; to do so he said they would have to start construction the second week of January.
Melissa Clark was more worried about what she perceived as a decrease in residents’ safety than traffic.
“When Levis Commons came into town so did crime and a downgrade,” she said. “We were a town, and have turned into a big city of money.”
Roger Bowers, a Perrysburg resident since 1958, said he’s glad Costco is considering Perrysburg, but thinks a perfect location would be at Roachton Road and State Rt. 25.
“I think Costco is good for us,” Ron Stewart said. “It has better paying jobs than restaurants.”
The city is already moving forward with traffic flow construction improvements at the intersection of State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction, but the Costco project could speed up those improvements. The work will add five lanes to the intersection and lengthen other lanes that taper down away from the intersection, and is estimated to cost $2.2 million.
This Costco, if approved, would be the second in the Toledo area. The first opened several years ago on West Central Avenue at Secor Road in Toledo.