MERIDIAN — Construction of a Costco Wholesale in Meridian will move forward without a court-ordered reset of the approval process.
Three residents in September tried to halt the project by filing a petition in 4th District Court, arguing the new Costco would do “substantial harm to their real property interests,” and the city of Meridian did not follow the correct approval process.
The court on Wednesday denied that petition for judicial review. The order, signed by Judge Nancy Baskin, said that while “petitioners have standing” because of Costco’s potential impacts, they “failed to show how any of their substantial rights were infringed by the approval of this development.”
If a judge had ruled the city’s process was unlawful, the developer would have had to start the approval process over to build Costco at Ten Mile Road and Chinden Boulevard. After months of delays and hearings, Meridian City Council approved Costco’s application in April and signed off on a revised design in October after residents complained about its look not fitting with the area.
The three residents who filed the petition, Rickey Burke, Robert Neufeld and David Reyes, claimed the city made “substantive and procedural errors of law” while considering Costco’s application, according to a court filing. The city didn’t adequately disclose information or provide notice to residents about changes to the Costco application, such as a comprehensive map amendment, they said.
The judge’s decision, however, said there was substantial evidence that City Council followed the procedures required by Idaho Code.
INFORMATION SHARING AND DESIGNATION CHANGES
Through the application process for the 168,600-square-foot Costco, parts of the property’s designation on the city’s comprehensive plan changed from “mixed-use regional” to “commercial.”
Petitioners claimed the city didn’t properly provide notice to residents of that change at least 15 days before the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing.
The court cannot review claims related to amendments to a comprehensive plan, according to the document. It can only review variance and the preliminary plat.
“The court finds the decision reached by the City Council concerning the variance and preliminary plat were supported by substantial evidence and were not arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of the City Council’s discretion or authority under the law and applicable codes and ordinances,” the document reads.
During the City Council meeting for the proposed Costco, Councilman Ty Palmer pulled up on Google Maps buildings surrounding Costco stores in Utah and other states. The petitioners called this evidence gathering “improper” because those locations were never revealed to the public or put on the record.
“Councilmember Palmer’s comments on the record do not reveal the locations of the ‘dozens’ of sites that were observed nor do the comments reveal the method that Councilmember Palmer used to determine whether the residences preexisted the nearby Costco,” the brief said.
The court’s decision said Palmer “fully communicated and disclosed his use (of Google Maps) to the public attending the hearing almost instantaneously with that use.”
The Costco application includes a fuel center, 10 additional commercial building lots and residential development on 78 acres. Meridian’s Costco — taking up 17 acres with 817 parking spots — will be the third in the Treasure Valley. The other two are in Boise — off Cole Road south of Overland Road — and Nampa — north of Interstate 84 on North Market Place Boulevard.
City attorney Bill Nary said the Costco will likely be complete by 2020. Costco developer Peter Kahn did not respond to the Idaho Press’ request for comment Wednesday.
Petitioners have 42 days to appeal the court’s decision, Nary said.
Attorney Andrea D. Carroll, representing the residents, did not respond to the Idaho Press’ attempts to reach her on Wednesday.
Nary said Mayor Tammy de Weerd and the Meridian City Council were pleased with the court’s decision. Baskin’s decision shows the council is following due process, he said.
“She understands people may be disappointed, but her job is to make sure due process is followed,” Nary said.
Three other judicial petitions have been filed against the city of Meridian during the roughly 15 years Nary has worked for the city, he said, but not for several years.