By: Sharon Aron Baron
Costco’s bid to build a new store in the City of Coral Springs passed at Wednesday night’s city commission meeting, but it wasn’t without a last-minute plea from neighboring residents who believed the big box store would cause traffic problems.
In a 4-1 vote, the 157,000 square foot retail store, including a gas station with 9 pumps accommodating 18 fueling stations, will now occupy the once empty lot on 14.1 acres on the northeast corner of Wiles Road and Coral Ridge Drive.
Residents in the adjacent properties of Kensington Green and Knightsbridge set conditions for their approval. Kensington Green residents wanted a 14-foot green sound wall on the eastern side, and to further inhibit noise, the store was repositioned to the south side of the road so that the loading dock would face Wiles road. Knightsbridge residents to the north will have an 8-foot composite fence. Due to the FPL power lines, they could not install a concrete wall.
According to the traffic consultant, a typical retail plaza would create 800 car trips per day versus the Costco which would create 643 trips per day. Store hours would not interfere with morning traffic since stores do not open until 10 a.m.
Richard Rovere from the Beachwood Heights neighborhood on the south side of Wiles Road was concerned with the increased traffic and what the acceptable number of personal injuries were before the commission would deny the application. He pointed out that more homes were located within 400 feet of the proposed Costco than for any other store in Broward or Palm Beach County.
“Past zoning accommodations from Dicks Sporting Goods, have been used to justify variances. But the time has come to close that proverbial barn door. We should not use previous questionable decisions to justify new ones.”
Resident Martin Finkelstein of Wyndham Lakes said traffic isn’t something left just to engineers. it is the end-user like the public that must live with the results. He brought up how traffic has already increased on Coral Ridge Drive due to the new construction in Parkland.
Commissioner Dan Daley, who was the only one to vote no on the project, said that while he supported Costco coming to Coral Springs, he opposed the location and design they chose. “The original plan was an abomination, and this is less of an abomination.”
Daley who grew up in Wyndham Lakes understood the significant impact the traffic would cause to the residents, however, felt Wyndham Lakes and Pelican Point should have been contacted by the Costco, but were not because they were outside of the legal 400-foot perimeter.
“That presents a massive problem for me,” said Daley. “You’re talking about one of our larger neighborhoods that enters and exits on Wyndham Lakes Boulevard. That to me is a huge issue. How difficult would it have been to reach out knowing the impact it would have on that community?”
Commissioner Larry Vignola said that someone’s going to do something with the property eventually. Since he’s been on the commission, two people have shown interest in building on the property. One wanted to build a four to six-story residential multi-family complex, and another wanted a wholesale flooring store with an additional home improvement shopping center. Both deals never came to fruition. He said that anything that goes in that property will increase traffic. “I drive by there all the time. Eventually something’s going to go there. It is private property.”
Someone suggested building Costco in the corporate park but Vignola said the owner doesn’t want to sell his property. He said during Costco’s first proposal, they wanted to put their loading dock behind Kensington Green.
“I told them I’d have a hard time approving that, however, I would not have bought a house there. I’ll be honest with you, it never would have crossed my mind buying a house knowing that something potentially would go there and I don’t know what it is.”
Commissioner Joy Carter said when Kmart moved in to Coral Springs, the Pine Ridge community was livid, but they survived it. Then when Walmart was proposed on Coral Ridge Drive, residents in Heron Bay threatened to sell their homes. Residents suggested to her that the city should buy the space and use it for a park, but Carter said that the city is not rich and that is why they had a tax increase, therefore they just cannot buy commercial land for a park.
She said that in her own polls, the people that live around the property do not want it. They don’t want the traffic or the perceived problems. But in every other part of the city, including the east side, the south side and Heron Bay, they want it.
“This leaves us up here going, who do we listen to, the majority? Yeah, I agree I wouldn’t want a loading dock in my backyard, but I also wouldn’t buy backing up to commercial property.”