Traverse City News and Events

Commissioners Approve Costco Zoning

May 3, 2016

Traverse City commissioners approved changes to the city's zoning ordinance Monday that will allow a proposed Costco store to proceed on South Airport Road.

The text amendment, which goes into effect May 12, will allow developments such as retail stores, brewpub and restaurants to be built on Cherry Capital Airport property. Commissioners thanked city and airport staff for addressing concerns about the project at a study session last week, saying the meeting had helped resolve several outstanding questions about the zoning changes.

"I felt comfortable we had a very thorough discussion," said Commissioner Richard Lewis, noting the ordinance amendment was "not just (about) a Costco" but "about the future of the airport." The proposed 154,000 square-foot Costco is expected to generate $3.3 million for Cherry Capital Airport through its 20-year lease.

While commissioners supported the zoning change, they also unanimously adopted a resolution of support Monday for state legislation that would close tax loopholes used by big-box stores like Costco to reduce their property taxes. House Bill 5578 proposes to stop retailers from using the "dark store" tax assessment method to cut their tax bills, instead charging rates based on the "highest and best use" of their property.

Commissioners also approved several Downtown Development Authority (DDA) proposals and requests Monday. Those included: a salary increase for DDA Executive Director Rob Bacigalupi; nearly doubling parking lot usage fees for special events taking place on city lots; leasing city space near the Pine Street Pedestrian Bridge to J&S Hamburg for outdoor dining; and relocating a planned memorial for former DDA Executive Director Bryan Crough from Park Street's Radio Centre III to Lay Park.

Several other items slated for discussion on the agenda were either postponed or abbreviated due to the absence of City Manager Marty Colburn, who took ill Monday afternoon. A possible closed session to discuss collective bargaining agreement negotiations and a proposed contract with Grand Traverse County for Central Records services were both pulled from the agenda. Commissioners also received a hard copy of a draft 2016-17 city budget prepared by Colburn - who had planned to give an overview of the document Monday night - but did not discuss its contents. Commissioners are expected to review the budget more extensively next Monday at a special study session on the topic.

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