Costco’s unhappy neighbors say they need to be heard
Two property owners in the path of Costco’s development say the city is running over them in its haste to complete a deal.
Owners of Bodine’s restaurant and Comstock Country RV Resort on Old Clear Creek Road in south Carson City are chagrined that the accelerated process to bring Costco to Carson City went through too quickly to include them in discussions – a charge city officials admit.
“Because of the accelerated process, we didn’t have time to meet with the property owners,” City Manager John Berkich said. “Our commitment is to hear the issues. There are details we said we’d work out.”
Both businesses will be affected by the addition of a stop light and redesign of Clear Creek Road needed to accommodate Costco. The city has sped through public meetings since December, adding almost 18 acres of land to the city’s redevelopment district, a move that allows the city to deal with one entity rather than go through a public bid process for the land.
For Judy and Gene Lepire, owners of Comstock Country RV Resort, concerns over noise, traffic and access to their business caused them to plan an appeal of the Carson City’s Regional Planning Commission’s approval of a special use permit for Costco.
“They’ve undermined the neighbors really impacted by Costco,” Judy Lepire said. “Even though this doesn’t affect a lot of people, in the end, it affects us adversely. We’re eking out a living at our jobs. Our busiest tourism season is in summer, and everything has been done in favor of Costco.”
Joe Masini, one of three owners of Bodine’s restaurant and the 14-space JDS Mobile Home Park, said proposed plans for the Highway 395/Clear Creek intersection pose a potential threat to the business.
In order to accommodate the 6,400 cars estimated to flow through the intersection daily, engineers are planning five lanes for Clear Creek Road. The lane additions require a concrete median in the middle, which limits access to both Bodine’s and the RV park.
Access to Bodine’s would be eliminated on Highway 395 and access to both businesses would be pushed 300 to 400 feet down Clear Creek Road, making it harder for traffic to get to the businesses, Masini and Lepire said.
They said city officials also intimated the businesses would be responsible for paying for the changes, although Berkich speculated the charges would be included in the project costs.
Masini said city officials never approached him with plans for the intersection until the day of the planning commission meeting, and the Lepires said they had one previous meeting.
Although city officials are working with the businesses now to come to a solution for the intersection, Masini and Lepire said they feel as if they were bypassed in the process.
“If the city had truly wanted to work with us, this would have already been worked out,” Lepire said.
Masini said Bodine’s has lived under the shadow of the freeway since it opened 15 years ago. The uncertainty has left the restaurant partners wondering what political maneuverings will do to their business.
Masini said the changes won’t ruin the business, but would significantly affect the restaurant. Access to Highway 395 is imperative, he said, and he and his partners are working with the Nevada Department of Transportation to move the property’s highway access farther south away from the Clear Creek intersection.
“We’ve established our commitment to Carson City,” Masini said. “We are definitely not opposed to Costco. We see it as nothing but a positive for the community. All we want to do is be part of the process. We just wanted to be involved.”
Masini said he thought the city’s efforts are sincere at this point, but he is still planning an appeal of the planning commission decision to city supervisors. The appeal would be based on the speed of the project and lack of coordination with Costco’s neighbors.
Andrew Burnham, Carson City’s development services engineering manager, said while he agrees the businesses have legitimate concerns, the accelerated process has brought the interchange planning to the surface faster than usual. It would usually come after the permit process, he said, rather than with it.
“This is still a work in progress,” Burnham said. “There have been 16 public hearings on this. This hasn’t been a silent process. We invited the public to enter into the process early on.”
Burnham said the traffic concerns were hard to deal with until this point because traffic studies hadn’t been completed. Until they were, engineers had no idea how the traffic would affect the properties.
City officials have met with both property owners since the planning commission meeting to work out some alternatives for access to their properties. Burnham said engineering schematics should be done in a few weeks that will allow a more thorough review the options available to accommodate the property owners.
“We’re trying,” he said. “We want them to be at the table, and to the extent we can accommodate their requests we will. But we have to make sure all the changes are safe for the public.”