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Costco wins Act 250 approval for gas station - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Costco wins Act 250 approval for gas station

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COLCHESTER, Vt. -

The push to bring a gas station to Costco in Colchester is moving forward.

"I think it is awesome," Margi Swett said.

Thursday, the district environmental commission approved an Act 250 permit to build a 3-island, 12-pump gas station adjacent to the big box store on Lower Mountain View Drive.

"I'm in favor of it," Dawn Hartman said.

Costco members living and working in the area say it will mean increased competition and lower prices when they go to fill up.

"We don't have much competition with gasoline prices in this area. It doesn't seem to have a big downside to me," Swett said.

But not everyone supports the plan. Competitors at Maplefields just down the street have been challenging the plan for years. In a statement to WCAX News, owner Skip Vallee said, "...we echo Commissioner McNamara's statement that 'there is no feasible permit condition which can alleviate the traffic impact of the proposed project on its current scale.' We look forward to making that case and others in the appropriate courts of law."

Mark Hall, the Burlington attorney representing Costco, says the company is pleased with the Act 250 decision, but is anticipating battling an appeal and is already preparing to take its case to the state's environmental court to face opponents next fall.

"Our argument to the environmental court is that the town got it right with regards to the zoning, is that the Agency of Natural Resources got it right in regards to the stormwater permit and that the Act 250 Commission got it right in regards to our Act 250 permit," Hall said.

There are a number of conditions to the Act 250 permit, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in road work to improve traffic flow around the site. Drivers say they'll be ready to fill up at Costco if they're in the area once the pumps are running, but argue they don't see the project having a major impact on stations elsewhere across the state.

"If you look on your little Gas Buddy application and you find that it is three cents cheaper and you have to drive 14 miles to get it, then I don't know if it is really worth it," Hartman said.

Of course getting one of these Costco cards is going to cost you. Memberships start at $55.

The lawyer representing Costco says if the future legal battle in the environmental court goes the company's way, construction could begin in the spring of next year.

Click here to read the land use permit.

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