Conditional approval for a proposed Costco store failed to get enough support Tuesday on Perrysburg City Council, which then voted 4-2 to approve the project’s special-use permit.
The vote was a key hurdle for the national chain’s plan for a 154,300-square-foot store and 16-pump filling station near the southeast corner of State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction Road on Perrysburg's south side.
“It is a win for Perrysburg,” said Mayor Mike Olmstead, who played a key role in council’s decision. “Everyone on council wants what they think is best for Perrysburg; we may not see that the same way.”
Costco still needs a final site-plan approval, which the city Planning Commission is expected to act upon during a meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.
Council discussed the project for about an hour before an audience of about 30 people, who were not permitted to speak.
During a hearing last week, many residents and business owners said they were not against Costco coming to Perrysburg, but questioned the site selection, which they claimed would worsen congestion at State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction and could decrease nearby home values.
Council first voted on approving the store’s special-use permit application with seven conditions, but that resulted in a 3-3 vote. Mayor Olmstead cast a tie-breaking vote to defeat the restrictions.
The special-use permit was needed under the city zoning code because proposal involves a retail store larger than 60,000 square feet. Costco’s plan includes not only the store and gas station, but 720 parking spaces and two out-lots upon which it has indicated it might build a bank and a fast-food restaurant.
Councilman Tim McCarthy urged council to impose eight conditions on the site’s use, but received no support. He then dropped one that would have forbidden Costco to use or sell the out-lots for other retail use, but the remaining seven conditions still failed to win the needed votes.
Council President John Kevern said not allowing the out-lots’ use would be a deal killer, to which Costco representative Ted Johnson nodded in agreement.
The seven other proposed conditions included requiring deceleration lanes at the site’s right-turn entrances; adding another through-traffic lane on Eckel Junction at the store’s main entrance; new signs identifying Callander Court at Eckel Junction as a dead-end street, and landscape buffering around the property’s perimeter.
Most of the conditions, Mr. McCarthy said, had been agreed to by Costco, but should be clarified. Mr. McCarthy and colleague Tom Mackin voted against the permit without the conditions.
“They were restrictions to make it a better project,” Mr. Mackin said. “We are here to make sure Perrysburg stays a good community.”
Mayor Olmstead said he opposed restricting the out-lots’ use, but said the other conditions would be examined on the final site plan before the Planning Commission and on construction drawings.
Councilman Barry Van Hoozen initially supported the special-use permit with the conditions, but when the mayor broke the tie against them, Mr. Van Hoozen supported the permit’s approval.
Traffic and property values were the two “big things that jump out” with the special-use conditions, he said, but three civil engineers had approved the traffic plan, which he said would had the greatest potential to affect property values.
“It doesn’t rise to the threshold to say no,” he said.
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Councilmen Rick Rettig, Todd Grayson, and Mr. Kevern, who had voted against the conditions, joined Mr. Van Hoozen in approving the permit without them.
Councilman Jim Matuszak abstained, citing a conflict of interest because one of his clients owns land toward which Costco had previously expressed interest.
Along with the main entrance on Eckel Junction, Costco’s site plan includes a right-in/right-out driveway on Route 25 and a right-in entrance on Eckel Junction. Callander Court residents have raised worry about traffic at the main entrance blocking access to their cul-de-sac.
A Costco traffic study estimates the store will add about 5,100 vehicles to the 41,000 that now travel daily through the Route 25/Eckel Junction intersection. The study concedes that even with five new lanes and four others lengthened, traffic experts still won’t consider the intersection “desirable” during peak evening hours.
Also complicating the property’s development is a Columbia Gas Transmission Co. pipeline that cuts diagonally across it, four feet deep, over which no buildings or pavement may be built. Costco plans to reroute the pipeline around its parking area and has indicated to the city it has an agreement to do so, but Columbia said negotiations are on-going.