Costco wins approval to rebuild in Redwood City

Costco got the green light to expand its warehouse and add 12 gas pumps at its Middlefield Road site, but residents who oppose the fuel station say it’s too soon to say whether they will continue the battle.

Costco’s expansion plan won environmental approval from the Redwood City Planning Commission on Tuesday night, while Zoning Administrator Blake Lyon approved the plan to build a new 160,000-square-foot warehouse on the property, demolish the 24-year-old Costco store and add 12 gas pumps — fewer than the 16 Costco originally proposed.

Redwood Village residents provided hours of testimony Tuesday, saying the gas station would bring intolerable levels of air pollution, traffic and noise to the neighborhood.

“We have supported the [store] expansion — what we oppose is the gas station,” resident Kathy Soulard said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Lyon chose 12 fueling stations, rather than 16, to balance oppositional testimony with that from Costco members who said they currently drive to other cities to purchase the chain’s inexpensive gasoline, he said.

“Looking at the information, it felt like a 12-position station was more appropriate for the scale of Redwood City, especially with respect to the volume of gas pumped and the number of trucks that would be needed to service the site,” Lyon said.

IfCostco had added 16 pumps to the site, which has none, it could be selling upward of 750,000 gallons of gas per month, according to Redwood City Planning Manager Jill Ekas. While the amount of gas sold at 12 pumps is expected to be smaller, Ekas didn’t have new estimates available Wednesday.

“I don’t see the difference [between 12 and 16],” Soulard said Wednesday. “It’s just going to mean a longer line of cars waiting for the pumps.”

Emissions from idling cars, coupled with those from the gasoline pumps themselves, have made residents worry for their health and the health of children who live in the neighborhood and attend Hoover School, two blocks from the Costco site, according to neighbor Surlene Grant.

Because Redwood City chose a compromise, it could face an appeal of Tuesday’s vote from residents or from Costco, Lyon said. Either side has seven days — until Wednesday — to file such an appeal. If none is filed, the environmental documents will be finalized within 30 days and project permits can move ahead.

Costco officials did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Costco’s expansion plan

Costco won approval Tuesday to demolish its existing Redwood City warehouse and build a larger one. Here’s what the warehouse chain plans at the site:

» New building is 160,931 square feet

» New entrance and intersection at Willow Street

» 60 added employees

» New gas station with 12 fuel pumps

» Green building with energy-efficient lighting, heating and ventilation

» New electric-vehicle charging station

» New chicken rotisserie

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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