I'm shocked. And pleasantly surprised.
After hours of impassioned testimony, most of it against relocating a giant Costco big box store to property adjacent to residential neighborhoods in south Salem, the City Council just voted to reject the staff approval of the Kuebler Gateway Shopping Center.
The vote was 5-3, with Mayor Bennett and Councilors Lewis and Nanke voting against Councilor McCoid's motion to reject the staff OK of the plan for the shopping center. Councilors Andersen, Hoy, McCoid, Cook, and Ausec voted in favor of the motion.
Congratulations to the neighbors who testified eloquently about the problems Costco and its fueling station would bring to their area. The South Gateway Neighborhood Association and some individuals appealed the City's approval of the shopping center plan, which led to tonight's hearing.
It was democracy in action.
Bennett said that he thinks Costco and PacTrust, the developer, will ultimately win in court. Well, I'm not so sure about that. It sounded to me that there were significant flaws in the traffic study carried out for the development. And other grounds for denying approval of the shopping center also seemed to have merit.
Tonight was a win for livability in Salem. There has to be a moment when people say enough is enough. That moment could have been this evening.
Enough traffic. Enough congestion. Enough killing of trees. Enough adding to carbon pollution. Enough catering to corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Geez, it was repeatedly pointed out that Costco is a wholesaler that requires a membership card to get in the door or buy gas. Yet the original PacTrust plan for this property was to have a shopping center that catered to the surrounding neighborhoods, not a giant big box store drawing people (and their cars) from all over.
Thanks to Trevor Phillips for posting some updates on the meeting on Facebook. Here's a photo that Phillips shared showing the large crowd at the City Council meeting.
And special congratulations to Councilor McCoid, a moderate conservative who lost his seat to Jackie Leung. So I believe this was his last council meeting. McCoid spoke briefly but to the point about why he made a motion to reject the staff recommendation to approve the project. Nicely done!