We need to take a close look at one crucial part of the Comprehensive Plan, because it’s the eye of the needle through which the developers want to squeeze a 150,000 square foot superstore with seven acres of parking and a fueling station.
How do they reconcile this behemoth with the vision for diverse growth expressed in the Comprehensive Plan?
Well, in their own words, in voting to accept the Plan “The Town Board determined that the appropriate zoning (C-3) would not be changed, and that the Comprehensive Plan’s vision for the old motel/gas station/nursery sites would be to welcome a retail draw such as Costco.”
Unfortunately, this is a half-truth. The truth part of it stops with “retail draw.” The “such as Costco” part? Not quite. If you take a look at what the Town Board had in mind, it was indeed for a major retailer to anchor the site. But nothing of that size or magnitude. The original idea was for a hotel, or a sports complex, or supermarket such as Whole Foods. These kinds of projects tend to attract further diverse retail and business development. But making the jump from a large anchor store to Costco is like telling your parents you want a pony for your birthday and waking up to find a rhinoceros in your room.
And the developer makes a similar stretch by saying that the Town Board also rejected an alternative proposal that would have outlawed so-called “big box” stores at that site – and that that somehow implies that doing so meant that they had Costco in mind. But there are all kinds of large retail stores – Turco’s, for example. Costco is a big box on steroids; and their retail model is nothing like that of other retailers.
So when you hear that the Town Board, in adopting the Comprehensive Plan, envisioned this huge superstore, that’s not quite right. It’s one small step past the truth, one giant leap into a future no one had in mind.