The pathway for Costco to open a 155,000-square-foot store in the Stonefield development became clearer Wednesday when Albemarle County supervisors approved requests to alter plans for the property.
“I think Albemarle County can use the tax revenue,” said Supervisor Rodney S. Thomas, one of four supervisors who backed the requests.
Supervisors Kenneth C. Boyd and William “ Petie ” Craddock voted against the plan.
Edens, Stonefield’s South Carolina-based builder, asked to realign proposed buildings and a street to accommodate the planned store in the 65-acre development.
Several people, including developers or their representatives, opposed the idea.
“In my mind, maybe this crosses into the major category and there’s a process to deal with that — a rezoning,” said J.P. Williamson, a founding partner with Charlottesville-based Octagon Partners.
Mark Baker, a land use planner at the Richmond law firm of Roth Doner Jackson , agreed.
“We have a local client who is opposed to the special exception,” Baker said. “Why wouldn’t you want to send this back … [for rezoning] as I think is dictated by your code?”
Development code allows for a maximum of 210,000 square feet of commercial buildings on the north side of Stonefield. Edens has proposed just 190,000 square feet.
“The original rezoning always contemplated larger ‘power center’ buildings … and depicted this area for major retail,” said county planner Sarah Baldwin. “The applicant can build one single big box by-right under the code of development.”
Although a county master plan for northern development areas suggests a maximum building size of 80,000 square feet, development code takes precedent, Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said.
“I don’t think a big box should be going in that location,” Craddock said.
Costco negotiated with several other sites in the market, but selected Stonefield “because it is the center for retail,” said Dan Venable, a Costco vice president in charge of site procurement. “If we don’t get approved at this location, we’ll pack our bags and we will not enter the Charlottesville market.”
“We don’t really appreciate those kind of threats,” Boyd said. “This is about density and intensity of a particular site and location. I don’t think it is the proper location.”
Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker disagreed.
“On the one hand, we wanted to get a neighborhood center built and, on the other, we recognized it was going to be difficult to do that without a more conventional center,” Rooker said. “That is what was approved.”
Rezoning still will be required to permit Costco to operate a gas station at the site.
Edens is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Great Eastern Management Company and the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Plant claiming the developer knowingly filed a faulty stormwater plan. A hearing in that case is scheduled for October in Albemarle County Circuit Court.