OK, don't take the title of this blog post literally. Actually I don't recommend that you email the City Council prior to their Monday, December 10 meeting and tell them that the plan for a relocated Costco in south Salem sucks.
(email address under that link is [email protected])
Rather, express yourself with synonyms. Like, really bad idea; traffic nightmare; White Oak killing spree; doesn't fit with residential neighborhood. Check out two neighborhood appeals of the Costco plan for more specific ideas.
Download SNGA Appeal Letter dated November 7 2018
Download Anuta Appeal Letter Dated November 7 2018
I'm a Costco member. So a few days ago I got a letter from Costco urging me to support the plan to build a 169,000 square foot Costco big box store immediately adjacent to residences in the South Gateway Neighborhood Association area.
Download Costco letter PDF
A couple of sentences in the letter particularly irritated me:
"On Oct. 13, 2018, the site plan application was approved by the City of Salem, but some have felt a need to appeal the land use decision to approve the project."
Felt a need? Believe me, people feel a need for a latte or ice cream cone. Appealing a land use decision is a whole other thing, requiring a heck of a lot of commitment, time, and money. It isn't something people undertake without good reason.
"It is a fact of life that individuals who oppose projects tend to make their objections known, while those in favor do not express their views."
Hmmmm. A fact of life? I guess Costco staff haven't spent any time at meetings regarding the proposed Salem River Crossing or Third Bridge. Those of favor of the bridge haven't been shy at all about expressing their views.
I am, though, going to take Costco up on their invitation to email the Salem City Council and make my voice heard. That voice is going to urge the Council to attend to the objections raised by neighbors, which make a lot of sense to me.
Of course, Costco has its own opinion, expressing itself in a gigantic response to the appeals that is virtually impossible for a normal human being to digest. I've got a slow Internet connection, living as we do in the wilds of rural south Salem, so the file took forever, more or less, to download.
One of the issues in the appeals concerns eight "significant" (old and large) White Oaks that the new Costco store would be built precisely over. So they'd be killed under the current plan, and a bunch of tiny White Oaks planted as replacements that will only take at least 100-200 years or so to grow to the size of the oaks already on the property.
I wrote about this travesty in "Eight large white oaks to be killed for a new Costco store in south Salem."
What's the value of eight lives? Is it greater or less than the desire of Costco to build a new Salem store on the graves of the deceased?
I'm talking about the lives of large hite oaks, not humans. But those are important questions to tree-loving people like me, which includes many of the neighbors who live near the Kuebler Gateway Shopping Center where the Salem Costco is planned to be relocated.
A City of Salem ordinance says that significant Oregon White Oaks can only be removed for a commercial development when this is "necessary." But Costco presented alternative site plans that preserve the eight trees. Costco just doesn't want to go with one of those alternatives.
Here's a screenshot from one of the appeals.
I don't find the developer's (PacTrust) response to the neighborhood tree concerns to be very persuasive.
Note the buzzwords: "undeniably necessary," "still have an economically viable project," "plain to see." Regarding the latter, I tried to look at the sample site plans attached as Exhibit 5 and came up empty, even after doing a word search for both Exhibit 5 and Exhibit.
Here's the entirety of Exhibit 5. The words "Exhibit 5 Sample Site Plans" with nothing else. However, Salem architect Geoffrey James has prepared a document that shows official alternative site plans for the Costco project that do protect the eight significant white oaks.
PacTrust and Costco just don't like those alternatives. To which I hope the City Council will reply, "Too bad. Pick one of them and save the eight oaks."