UKIAH, 5/25/2017 — The City of Ukiah Planning Commission moved the Costco project one step closer to reality at a public hearing Wednesday night. Commissioners recommended that the Ukiah City Council certify the final environmental impact report (EIR) and rezoning of property for the proposed Costco site. After hearing several residents provide comment on the matters, planning commissioners agreed almost unanimously to allow the project to move forward. One commissioner, Linda Sanders, voted against the EIR’s final approval, but agreed to recommend the rezoning. The EIR was partially approved in 2013, and Wednesday’s meeting addressed only those portions that were being recirculated. The proposed location for the store is in the airport industrial park, on the south end of town.
Ukiah area residents offered comments on the proposed Costco’s energy impact, including concerns about landscaping, LED lighting, and other energy use. Ukiah resident Pinkie Kushner noted that the EIR was conducted by considering the impacts of a different site where the Costco had previously been proposed.
After the vote, one planning commissioner noted the length of time the project had been considered, commenting “that’s four and a half, five years….” He was then corrected by another planning commission member, who recalled the proposed project had been considered by the commission for seven years. “well, I’ve got a lot of paperwork for nothing, then” replied the first planning commissioner.
In his presentation to the commission, Ukiah City Planning Manager Kevin Thompson told the body that the city had a writ of mandate from the court of appeals to set aside all previous approvals for the Costco project and to recirculate the energy analysis of the EIR. The EIR for the project found that it could result in significant impacts in a wide variety of areas, including but not limited to, air quality, global climate change, biological and cultural resources, aesthetics, hazards and hazardous materials, and hydrology and water quality. City staff recommended approval of the project on the grounds of fiscal benefits, employment, redirection of trips to the Costco in Santa Rosa, and increasing local retail development.
Though Sanders dissented on the vote to recommend certification of the final EIR, the vote to approve the rezoning of the site was unanimous. The area to be rezoned includes 4.10 acres of Industrial/Auto Commercial property, and 11.2 acres of Light Manufacturing/Mixed Use property. The new designation would be Retail Commercial. Thompson said that Costco planned to return the deed for one parcel to the city, so it could be turned into a park.
The Ukiah City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter at its meeting on June 7.