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Published: 12/12/2013 - Updated: 4 months ago

Costco asks for approval delays, working out underground gas line problem

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Costco asked Perrysburg officials to delay two review meetings next week on its proposed store near State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction Road because it may have to revise its plan because of an underground natural gas line that runs diagonally across the site.

City officials say it could mean there will be less pavement above the pipeline, which could mean more landscaping and fewer overall parking spaces on the property.

Costco is in negotiations with Columbia Gas Transmissions, which owns the line.

Brody Walters, Perrysburg planning and zoning administrator, said a planned special use permit hearing on Dec. 17 before City Council and a final site plan review meeting on Dec. 19 of the city Planning Commission have been postponed at Costco's request. The meetings have not yet been rescheduled.

The delay stems, he said, because Costco is in negotiations with the gas company about what it will allow to be place on the surface above the gas line.

Mr. Walters said he has been told by Costco that the gas company wants less asphalt and concrete from a parking lot above the line because it make it harder to maintain the pipe and to detect potential leaks. Instead, lighter landscaping was suggested. But the change would mean more landscaping than what Costco has proposed and result in fewer parking spaces.

The pipeline, which has a 50-foot wide easement at the surface, carries natural gas at 450 pounds per square inch. It runs from the northwest corner of the Costco site to near its southeast corner, based on the company's site plan.

Of the proposed Costco project, Perrysburg Councilman Todd Grayson said, "I don't see a delay from the city side. They are trying to push it through."

Costco has proposed a 154,300-square foot store on 28 acres near the southeast corner of State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction Road. Some residents expressed concerns about traffic congestion from such a store, and some suggested putting it in other locations, including further south on State Rt. 25. It would be its second store in the Toledo area, with the first opened several years ago on W. Central Avenue and Secor Road in West Toledo.

The company's preliminary site plan, which included an on-site gas station just off of State Rt. 25, was approved with requirements by the Planning Commission on Nov. 21 The plan showed 741 parking spots, well above the 579 parking spaces required by the city. Mr. Walters said new plans being discussed with changes for the gas line would provide 675 parking spaces, or 66 spaces fewer to make more room for landscaping and less pavement. 

Ted Johnson, who represents Costco for TJ Design Strategies, said at the Nov. 21 planning commission meeting that the company wanted the store to open next fall but to do so construction would have to start by mid-January.

Mr. Walters said the public hearing and final site plan could be added to the January meetings, but he said that with negotiations ongoing between Costco and the gas company over Christmas and New Years, further reviews by the city may be delayed until February. The project requires a special use permit from council and final site plan approval from the planning panel.

"It is unfortunate to do this at the last second," Mr. Walters said. "I think they thought they would have this ironed out prior to the meetings."

The delay means the outcome of Costco reviews will rest with the new mayor and city council next year. There will be three new city council members and council member Mike Olmstead will be mayor next month. 

"I think the retaining four city council votes will be in favor of it," Mr. Grayson said. "I can't see the new folks fighting this. I'd be shocked."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.


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