Ukiah City Council members Wednesday night delayed voting on the final environmental impact report for a Costco warehouse along Highway 101 but made it clear they support the project.
“This is a necessary step that the city needs to make for its own continued existence,” City Councilman Benj Thomas said of the project.
A vote was delayed after staff asked for more time to ensure they'd adequately responded to concerns raised about the impact report.
City officials have been trying to lure Costco to Ukiah for years. The 148,000 square-foot store is expected to generate almost $500,000 in revenue annually for the city of Ukiah and create 175 to 200 jobs, half of them full time.
The pay for an entry level cashier is $11.50 compared to the mostly minimum wage offered by many other retailers. The company also offers medical benefits and paid holidays.
Ukiah City Councilwoman Mary Anne Landis said Costco is a good employer and that bringing a store to Ukiah is crucial to maintaining city services. “The one way we can get services is to feed our general fund,” she said.
Costco supporters who spoke at Wednesday night's public hearing agreed.
Costco “would bring a big boost to our entire economy,” Ukiah resident Brian Kornegay said.
However, a majority of those who spoke at the hearing voiced concerns about the store's impacts on existing businesses, aesthetics, traffic, air quality and an adjacent seasonal wetland.
“Reject Costco, please,” said Ukiah resident Chuck Williams.
Several people suggested the impacts of the store could be reduced if its 16- to 20-pump gas station was eliminated, but Costco officials said the store would not be built without the station.
Others opposed the city borrowing up to $4 million to make highway interchange improvements to accommodate the additional traffic generated by Costco and additional stores that are expected to follow.
“Let them make the necessary improvements,” said Marlene Shupe.
The council is scheduled to vote on the impact report Dec. 18.