The Ukiah City Council on Wednesday night unanimously approved an environmental report and zoning changes for a 148,000-square-foot Costco warehouse store along Highway 101.

The votes included a finding that the store's benefits outweigh its significant and unavoidable negative impacts on Ukiah's air quality and traffic and on global warming.

However, the store cannot be opened until the city makes an estimated $4 million in highway interchange improvements to accommodate the additional traffic generated by Costco and other stores that are expected to follow.

The city has yet to secure that funding.

The council said little before approving the study and only one person voiced concerns during the uncharacteristically short public hearing.

The project had been exhaustively discussed at previous public hearings during which the council made clear they want the store.

During past hearings, critics said they were worried about the store's impacts on traffic, air quality, nearby seasonal wetlands, existing businesses and aesthetics.

The council vote was not surprising.

City officials have been wooing Costco for years. The 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 store also pays better wages than many retail stores.

The pay for an entry-level cashier is $11.50. The company also offers medical benefits and paid holidays.

Ukiah City Councilwoman Mary Anne Landis previously said Costco is a good employer and that bringing a store to Ukiah is crucial to maintaining city services.

A staff report contended revenue from the store also will benefit local schools and the county as well as the city.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or