SCARBOROUGH — Costco Wholesale Development has released its formal site plan review for the construction of a 161,000 square foot retail center and ancillary gas station in the innovative Downs neighborhood.
Costco is in the early planning stages to set up its first location in Maine at the former site of the Scarborough Downs racetrack. On Monday, June 27, Costco Wholesale Development met with the Scarborough Planning Board to offer their formal site plan review.
“The council made two sketch plan requests in winter and spring where we discussed many issues, and the result was a pre-request to staff,” said lead planner Eric Sanderson. “Staff then reviewed this pre-request to which Costco, its engineers and team responded, and those responses were included in the current site plan request before the board for review. In one of the preliminary comments we had, we had details regarding stormwater, but one of the biggest issues was traffic considerations for the project. On the traffic side, our traffic engineering team identifies a few preliminary comments that Costco needs to address. »
“The main traffic concern that our peer review team and staff had to do with the distribution of trips to and from this regional destination, which could have impacts on the length of the turn lanes entering on the site, particularly from Payne Road as well as potential off-site improvements. “Sanderson said.
The company has responded to the council’s previous concern about the size of the car park on the proposed site at The Downs, its impact on the adjoining wetlands, and it has requested waivers to city ordinances on car park traffic lanes and the height of the streetlights. Costco developers said local wetlands will be protected through landscaping buffers and by replenishing wetlands through stormwater drainage. The Department of Environmental Protection supported him.
“The site walkways were designed for this purpose for the expected volume of traffic to this site,” said M&R Holdings Director of Development Dan Bacon. “We worked on driveway locations balancing wetland impacts along Downs Road to place this driveway in the best possible location for access, but also to minimize wetland impacts.” Through this type of design process and in conjunction with Costco, they also designed this site to preserve as much wetland area as possible along Downs Road as you enter the Downs; this green walkway in the Downs shields the building’s car park largely from the view of Downs Road, and this was also in an effort to circumvent environmental protection.
The Planning Board discussed potential traffic issues along Payne Road. One of the council members said the proposed Costco gas station poses traffic problems. They said a dedicated right-turn lane was needed due to the merge on that section of the road. Board member Richard DuPerre said the councilman was in favor of the project but was not going to be in favor of the no-turn lane entrance.
Other board members agreed with DuPerre saying the service station lines could extend to Payne Road and insisted a turning lane be added to traffic plans so as not to back up on Payne Road.
The final issue that Costco developers discussed was seeking a waiver for the board to allow smaller lanes between parking spaces and taller light poles in the parking lot. City mandates that traffic lanes between spaces must be at least 25 feet wide and light poles at a standard height of 20 feet – Costco’s site plan calls for 24-foot lanes wide and 36 1/2 foot light poles. Parking had already been discussed at the Planning Board meetings in January and March.
“Let me just say that in terms of feedback in general, we’ve received a large number of letters and emails regarding Costco, both pro and con,” said Rachel Henderson, chair of the Planning Council. “Let me just clarify that this body doesn’t look at the nature of the organization that’s in front of us and that’s not part of the ordinances, it could be a wonderful business, it could be a lousy business. What’s in front us, that’s what this company offers.
Council asked Costco representatives to present the need for a streetlight waiver and plans for a turn lane to the gas station at their next meeting.
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