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Yorktown Residents Concerned Over Costco, Future of Town

The residents have set up a website, nocostco.com, to encourage others to join them in their efforts of stopping the project.

Traffic nightmares, air pollution, local businesses going out of business, real estate values going down in Yorktown.

Those are just some of the issues a group of residents are envisioning for the town's future if the proposed Costco Wholesale Club development is approved.

Several residents spoke out in front of Yorktown town board members earlier this week and urged others to check out their website – nocostco.com – for more information and join them in their efforts to stop the project.

"What concerns me is that our town is facing a proposed development that will change its very nature forever," Yorktown resident Jim McKean said. "Yet most of the town seems unaware of the full impact of what is about to happen."

McKean asked town officials not to grant the necessary permits needed for the constructions of the 151,000-square-foot retailer on Route 202.

"The fate of this project and our town is in your hands," he told town board members. "Without the permits they can't move along."

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Residents who spoke against the project said they were concerned local businesses – operated by Yorktown residents – would go out of business. Jennie Sunshine said she was concerned about storm water runoff and increased air pollution from increased traffic. Others weren't willing to sit in traffic in order to save a few dollars. 

Yorktown resident Babette Ballinger said people should think about what they're willing to give up for another place to shop.

"Don’t let the destruction of our rural environment be the legacy of this town board," she told town officials. "Are you willing to contribute to the deterioration of the quality of life for the majority?"

The public hearing for Costco has been set for Oct. 15. It will be held in the Nutrition Center Room in the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center. McKean urged residents to attend the meeting and speak up.

"This is not a done deal, as much as people would like you to believe," he said. Now is the time to make your voice heard."

Mark Prudenti, a Yorktown resident for more than 25 years and a small business owner in town, left a comment to a blog post written by McKean on Patch, stating his position in favor of Costco. 

"Costco gives back a percentage of their gross revenue to the town they operate in, and perhaps the most important fact (to me, and other average citizens of Yorktown), they will provide discounted gas prices and discounted groceries," he wrote. 

Earlier this year, Costco representatives met with Yorktown Chamber of Commerce members to brief them on their development. 

If Costco is developed in Yorktown, officials said it would generate $600,000 in school taxes, $88,000 in town taxes and $9 million in county and state sales tax revenue. Costco also contributes back 1 percent of pre-tax dollars to the community in which each store is located – which is estimated to be $1.5 million for Yorktown.

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For more articles (written by Patch staff) related to Costco click on the links below:

  • Costco Relocates Proposed Fueling Area in Site Plan
  • [Poll] Costco 'Cautiously Optimistic' to Open in 2013
  • Public Hearing for Costco Set for Oct. 15
  • No Decision on Costco's Sewer Line Creation Yet
  • Yorktown Smart Growth Distributes "True Costs of Costco" Information Kit
  • Residents Discuss Proposed Costco and Potential Environmental Impacts
  • We Asked Our Readers to Comment on Costco

For blog posts (written by local community members) click on the links below:

  • It's Not About Costco
  • Costco: It's Not a Done Deal
  • What Will Costco do to Yorktown?
  • Costco Is Already Making a Difference.
  • Yorktown Chamber of Commerce Weighs in on Costco
  • The Costco Development Can Come Back to Bite Ya!
  • Development of the Route 202 "Economic Development Corridor" in Yorktown
  • Mom & Pop Culture Shop Costco
  • Yorktown About to Enter New Development Era

Editor's Note: The article has been updated to reflect the change that the Oct. 15 Planning Board meeting – the date for the public hearing on Costco – will be held at the YCCC building, not Town Hall.

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Scott Petricig September 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Do you realize WHY there aren't a lot of young families here? It's because real estate prices are too high, taxes are too high, and there's nothing to do and nowhere to work!! I like living in Westchester but the fact is there are practically NO JOBS here, at least no jobs that will support someone living in Westchester. Costco will not help this, but neither will small local businesses! We need to ramp up the commercial/corporate base here BIG TIME. Having a large retailer come in and help build up the infrastructure will only help with this. If we turn down everything that wants to come into this town, we will have NOTHING.
Evan Bray September 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Our tax bill will not go down if this gets approved. You say it yourself. "Costco will not help this." So be it if Costco doesn't come to town. Not the end of the world; the converse is true also, but Yorktown will definitely be worse for the wear. If it doesn't get approved, our tax bill will not go up as a result. It's a weak and terribly misleading argument. I think it's funny that in the DEIS, the applicant argues that it will raise household income with all these awesome jobs Costco will create. Unless they triple the 14 bucks an hour, that's simply not true. No one working at Costco will be making enough money to buy in Yorktown. I have a short length of hose at home and, while I don't smoke, keep a pack of smokes around; I find it a much more efficient system to deliver smoke up my wazoo. I respect your support for the proposal, but disagree with it. You, and all the other supporters that will turn out in force on 10/15 will have to get the comprehensive plan repealed in order to get this thing approved. Otherwise we're looking at a year or two of litigation.
Scott Petricig September 23, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Sorry I should have been more clear - Costco will not directly help with creating high-paying jobs, but will help in supporting the creation of infrastructure improvements and could convince companies that DO have better-paying jobs to come into this town. We have to revitalize the economy around here somehow. I totally respect your fight against Costco as well, as that is your opinion and your passion. I won't say that I fully support Costco coming to town either, in that location, but are we getting better competitive options? Nope. We can dream as much as we want for better things in the town, but unless someone puts up the money to build them, they're not going to happen. Sure, I'd love to have plenty of things in this town that would be a better fit, but where are those development proposals?
Bill September 23, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Evan, this threat of lawsuits if you folks do not get your way (which I've seen mentioned twice now) is the scariest thing I've seen in these discussions. Sadly, this is par for the course for people like you who oppose development.
Bill September 23, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Just so you knowm they do not make a huge profit selling you stuff. If you bother to look at their financials, you will find that Costco makes very little profit on the actual sales. Their profit is in the membership fees. So while you clearly think that people who shop at Costco are suckers, there are millions of us who would strongly disagree. And once again, other than most food items, most of their stuff is NOT in bulk. And as for the traffic, you continue to ignore the fact that there will be improvements on 202 that will never be done if development is not allowed. Were you one of the people who got Homart rejected 15+ years ago because of traffic? The claim then was that the state was going to do it on their own "soon". They didn't. You still have traffic, no improvements, and you complain about traffic. The state will never make the improvments if a developer doesn't come in to help fund it. As for needing additional police, I continue to ask for proof of this. I never see police at BJ's or anywhere in that shopping center. Given that there is someone at the door checking receipts against what's in your cart (not to mention that you need a membership card to get in), I would imagine that Costco's shoplifting rate is extremely low. I would expect the police could be busier writing tickets for illegally parked cars in handicapped spots in their lot (which is revenue to the town) than they would be responding to calls.
Tom September 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
There is no possible way a Costco will save us 42 bucks per person, in fact after all the smoke clears it will cost us more money for the town to maintain it. Also when the BJs becomes an abandoned crumbling warehouse what will we do with that? I guess we can raze that as well. And who will pay for that? And build what then? Perhaps a bus terminal or an international airport, hey it might reduce our taxes! I respect others opinions but we have to look at the long haul and not be short sighted, we must keep an open mind on this.
Bill September 23, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Please explain the costs to the town to maintain Costco. If you're claiming police please give us details of the additional cost to the town to provide police to BJ's. Also, there are plenty of places where BJ's and either Costco or Sam's Club co-exist within a fairly short distance. Maybe not across the street from each other, but within a mile or two, and given that there are no other warehouse clubs within 30 minutes of Yorktown (despite an earlier claim that there are several Costco's 20 minutes away, which is a lie), and given that these are REGIONAL stores, you don't need to rely solely on Yorktown residents to support them. BJ's does not require that you be a member (you just pay an extra 15%) so people may choose to go there instead of Costco. And BJ's has a service deli, which Costco does not.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse September 23, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I have heard that Costco is a good store but no business lasts forever. I think about that everyday when commuting on the train and pass by twists stumps of columns in a sea of asphalt near Tarrytown where GM had their plant that closed years ago. What should be beautiful site on the banks of the Hudson has become a wasteland. It's true that the abandoned hotel site is not pristine but couldn't Costco come up with a better plan? Maybe multi-level parking to leave more of the site open? Maybe put plantings on the roof to serve as insulation and reduce their carbon footprint? There's a host of innovative things that they could do to make this plan more palatable to everyone in town and generate great press for them. Yorktown is a great place to live because it combines natural beauty with convenience-- the essence of being "green"- and any new commercial development should reflect this fact.
Bill September 23, 2012 at 06:14 PM
The town will not allow a parking garage (they did not for the JV Mall expansion many years ago) and it adds tremendous expense to the project. Plus an extra story would make it even more visible from the road, which was an early concern. And it makes no sense given the large size of the property. Most of the vocal opponents here would not approve even if they built the building with entirely recycled materials and it was the greenest building in the world. As for plantings on the roof, is there any evidence of a building doing that? I'd imagine that could be a real problem in the winter due to the added weight and the fact that it would absorb water when it snows. It could get lots of press when the roof collapsed.
Tom September 23, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Traffic control, lighting, additional accidents due to increased traffic conditions, traffic control signals, maintenance of additional road space, plowing, salting, potholes. The costs are much more than one might realize and it will easily exceed the estimated $18,000 to $100,000 in added tax revenues plus any added sewer hookups for a select few. Sometimes we take all of these jobs for granted but they are not cheap.
Bob Rohr September 23, 2012 at 11:08 PM
The reasons for not allowing COSTCO in are getting lamer and lamer. I am also beginning to suspect a lot of what I am reading. Social Media is being used as a marketing, and Political tool. There are agencies that manage Social Media to sway public opinion. Costco is the largest of it's kind and the second largest retailer in the US.. Costco Wholesale Corp.'s revenue from stores open at least a year climbed 6 percent, beating Wall Street's expectations for the warehouse-club retailer. Their big concern is over expansion in the U.S.and having one COSTCO compete with another, so they are picking their locations carefully. They are expanding Overseas for that reason. They are at almost no risk of going out of business. They will use no Town services, they have to hire a Carting Company to take away their garbage. They plow their own property. This Town is at a tipping point, either you open up to controlled development or you don't. Big business is very careful about selecting a location to invest in and Yorktown must be considered a viable market. Others will keep an eye on COSTCO's profit at this store, and they will see what type of hoops they will have to go through to open any business here. People wave this Comprehensive plan around like it is the New Testament, Koran, and the Talmud all rolled into one. It is a plan to be executed over period of time and modified as conditions dictate.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Tom, Route 202 is a state road so any of those expenses would be state expenses, not town. The state will collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax (as will the county and I believe the town as well to a lesser extent, by the way) and they can easily pay for whatever negligible additional expenses are involved. Exactly what lighting is there on Route 202 (not that any of it would be town provided, anyway). Don't people get charged for being hooked up to the sewer and also pay sewer district taxes (plus usage fees based on water use). I know I pay those on my tax bill. And all of these additional costs would be incurred with the proposed use in the master plan, and I didn't see people concerned about those. So this is yet more BS that's being tossed out because you don't like what is going there.
Tom September 24, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Bill The road which is to be expanded is plowed, salted and repaired by the town. Adding a store will not add to the sales tax because it will not cause people to buy more just buy it in a different place. That is why BJs will become a vacant building. Since I live in the county I also pay county taxes as well as town taxes so any expenses incurred by the county are paid for by us. Also that highway which is to be greatly expanded is to be policed by the YPD.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Well said, Bob. All of this opposition will not go unnoticed by other companies who want to come in, even the ones that the opposition might not be opposed to. If there is a lawsuit (which Evan is now threatening), things will be even worse and it will basically chop the Supervisor's plans to attract development off at the knees. If Trader Joe's (or Fairway, while I'm dreaming) ever came to their senses and decided to come to Northern Westchester, do you think they'd even consider Yorktown when they saw the hoops that Costco was having to go thru? Just when we thought we had a town board that understood the importance of development, we find a planning board reinforcing the long-standing history of Yorktown being a difficult place to do business, and opponents here threatening lawsuits. Speaking of lawsuits, if there were one, unless the opposition has deep pockets, I'd have to imagine that it will be funded by a corporate entity with an interest in keeping Costco out of town. Of course it would also cost the town and its taxpayers money to defend, thus proving once again the utter BS that the opposition is using in claiming to be concerned about town expenses if Costco comes to town.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Tom, Route 202 is a state road and if the town is plowing it (which I don't think they are), they are doing so under an agreement with the state where they get paid (I recall reading about this for roads like 132 and maybe Underhill). And I strongly doubt there is any county expense involved here. Honestly, what does the county provide in Yorktown at all for all the taxes we pay them? You folks continue to ignore the facts. This is not an issue of just people from Yorktown shopping. People who live in the northern Westchester and Putnam areas will come to shop at Costco because there is none nearby and many have heard (or know) what a great store it is. I could even see people from Dutchess shopping there, especially if they drive past on the Taconic en route to work, or if they really want to shop at Costco. Not everyone will desert BJ's -- some people will prefer it, and I know several people who belong to multiple clubs because they find that they like different things at different stores. There are a few things I buy at BJ's that Costco does not carry. BJ's does not require a membership to shop (you pay an extra 15%) so they could get more people shopping there because they've come to Yorktown to shop at Costco and they co-exist with a nearby Costco in New Rochelle/Pelham and with a nearby Sam's Club in Fishkill/Wappingers (and both of those areas do not have lots of stores closing).
Bill September 24, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Finally, it is just utterly ridiculous to continue to claim that Costco will just suck business from all other stores in Yorktown. It shows that either you have no understanding of the situation, or you're just grasping for straws - or both. As for the highway being "greatly expanded", the other people opposing Costco claim it will only be expanded for a short distance, from the Taconic to the Costco entrance. Which is it? Get your stories straght. And even if it were widened for a mile, please explain to me how that would result in added police expense to the town? Maybe there would be LESS accidents because it was widened and made safer. Oh, and if the state came in tomorrow and miraculously said that they found the money to expand Route 202 down to Lexington Avenue, would you still be complaining and saying that they should not do it due to added expense to the town? I didn't think so. So let's cut the BS here.
Jessica September 24, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Jessica Can you image the traffic on Crompond Rd. I already can not get around to do my day to day things like picking the kids from school!,
Jessica September 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I am all for creating and bringing new development into Yorktown, but I would like to formally request a more in-depth study of the socio-economic impact of this type of project than we presently have. The study needs to show not only the current impact on the local merchants, but also the cumulative impact brought on by the expected entry of other mass merchants. Also, it must show the impact on the tax rolls after owners of surrounding properties demand tax certioraris when they can no longer get tenants, or support the necessary rents they need to collect to pay their taxes. In that context, any increased tax revenue from Costco could easily be offset. There is a reason why big box stores are not welcome in charming communities such as Katonah, Bedford, and Mt. Kisco—and why locate instead in undesirable communities such as Yonkers, Elmsford, and Port Chester. Which path will Yorktown choose? The Comprehensive Plan assumes the former; allowing Costco to come to this location ensures the latter. Thank you,
Jessica September 24, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Do you realize that, according to the developers own study; the traffic will be increased by at least 758 cars per hour. As per traffic counts from the DOT (dated from 2003), the average # of cars at noon time is 1,609 per hour. That means that we would have an increase of almost 50% more……and this is based on 2003 counts, and the projected increase comes from the developer. Imagine what it will be like at 5pm in the afternoon? THINK ABOUT THAT!!!!
Darrell September 24, 2012 at 02:02 AM
In studying the planned project for a Costco warehouse store on Rte. 202/35, it cannot escape notice that the site borders not only on wetlands, but also one of the most environmentally sensitive streams in the area. This watercourse, called the Hunter Brook, serves as a major trout-spawning ground; additionally, it eventually makes its way to the Croton Reservoir
Bill September 24, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Jessica -- big box stores are not welcome in Mt. Kisco and Bedford? What do you call Target (Mt Kisco) and Kohls (Bedford Hills)? Katonah doesn't allow any chains in. Would you prefer that path in Yorktown? Say goodbye to Starbucks, CVS, Staples, etc. And there really isn't anyplace in Katonah where a large retailer could go. Also, what surrounding properties do you think will go without tenants? Even the owner of the Staples Plaza shopping center (where BJ's is located) acknowledged that retailers like to be near other retailers. Bringing Costco in would make his property MORE attractive, not less. Maybe he'd finally be able to rent that empty space where BB&B moved out of a while ago. Also, Cortlandt Manor has plenty of big box stores at the Cortlandt Town Center. Are you trying to tell us that it is an undesirable area? Oh wait, Yorktown already has big box stores. Is it undesirable? I love how you pull out the areas with large minority populations to try to scare people into thinking that allowing Costco in will all of a sudden result in the downfall of the town (and large influx of undesirable minorities, I guess). Although I wish we had a fraction of the great restaurants they have in Port Chester.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 02:11 AM
As for your socio-economic impact of this type of project, rather than wasting time and money on it (unless you're volunteering to do it for free), how about looking at the real life example of how BJ's has negatively impacted the town. I'm still waiting for examples, and don't make things up or start claiming that the former Food Emporium closed because of BJ's, when in reality it closed because A&P converted all of the Westchester FE's to A&P and when they filed for bankruptcy someone finally noticed that they had 2 of the same supermarkets 3 blocks apart). I'll be waiting.
Bill September 24, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Really? Then how did the comprehensive plan allow for a combination retail/office/housing development there? If it's bad for Costco, it would have been bad for that, right? How did that ever get approved?
Bill September 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Think about the fact that the number of people shopping at 5pm on a weekday will be far fewer than the number you quote (which I still do not believe, unless it counts people arriving and leaving, in which case it's double the actual number of additional cars).
Bob Rohr September 24, 2012 at 02:50 AM
In browsing this Plan I found this: Policy 2-4: Monitor future development and population trends, and regularly update the Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Plan. • As new development occurs, portions of the Land Use Plan may no longer make sense, or new ideas may spring forth. The Town should regularly reevaluate and update the Plan, so that it remains current and relevant. The Town should establish a reasonable time horizon for a comprehensive update.
Evan Bray September 24, 2012 at 11:58 AM
There you go, Bob. If the area has changed SI much in the preceding 2 years, Costco supporters should be lobbying for just such a change since the proposal flies in the face of the plan in it's current form. Failure to address utter lack of regard for the plan in this proposal invites a lawsuit. They will argue that the town didn't follow it's own rules (in this case the comp plan). It will tie this job up for a year or two. There's still a lot of approvals they need. First stop will be the zoning board for at least two zoning variances. Gordon Fine has a "counsel relationship" with Al Capellini so he'll recuse himself. Gregg Bucci and the remainder of the ZBA will make a reasoned and informed decision with the welfare of the town as a whole in mind. Just kidding.
Evan Bray September 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Rest assured I have no interest, nor the financial wherewithal to sue over this. I would bet there's probably a couple business that would certainly lawyer up. It's hard not to think so if you read the words in the adopted plan and look at the proposal. Pretty straight forward. I'm honestly looking out for the town. If we get sued over this dumb proposal, we'll all be paying outside counsel to represent us in the matter. By us I mean YT taxpayers.
Noreen Parrell September 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I would rather shop in a Yorktown Costco instead of driving down to Yonkers or over to Danbury! That old hotel has been an eyesore and that is contributing to the deterioration of the area!
Tom September 25, 2012 at 11:51 PM
http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012309240081
Tom September 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM
www.nocostco.com

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