Costco opens Colchester gas station

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT
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Drivers have a new place to buy gas in Colchester after Costco opened its pumps for the first time Tuesday. The gas station sat idle the past three years as part of a nearly decadelong legal fight that continues.

Cars were finally able to line up at the pumps Tuesday at Costco after years of legal battles. With the rest of the area averaging nearly $2.00 a gallon, at $1.59, drivers said they're excited to see lower gas prices.

"Great cost. Fifty-cents cheaper than out on the street," said John Hyatt, one of those excited to fill up.

"I knew that their prices would be good," said Adam Wolford, another customer.

But are their prices too good? That's one of a couple of allegations from gas distributor R-L Vallee run by Skip Vallee. His company has been fighting the Costco project for years and says Costco is breaking a promise it made in Vermont Environmental Court in 2014 not to open until traffic improvements had been made to the Exit 16 area. Those are still in the works, but the town of Colchester says Costco did get a state land use permit at the end of February to operate under limited hours until those improvements are made. And that's what Costco did. Customers can go on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., but the evening commute from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is off-limits.

Vallee appealed that and filed a temporary restraining order request with the courts to stop Costco from operating those gas pumps. "Costco is now thumbing its nose at safe traffic and its promise. It appears that Costco is using its COVID profits to subsidize a below-cost gas price. The current traffic mess is a direct result of that arrogance," Vallee said in a statement to WCAX.

People we spoke with weren't buying it, though, because gas prices at the Maplefield's up the road from Costco dropped to match the wholesaler's that morning.

"It's great. More competition just lowers prices, better for consumers. I've noticed in the past couple of days gas prices have gone up 10-cents, so this is good. This has made everybody drop their prices nearby," said Gary Winthorpe of Hinesburg.

"That's what America is about. It's competition and getting nice prices out of it," Wolford said.

You must be a member to buy gas at Costco.

The permit Costco got also says they have to pay about half-a-million toward the traffic improvements and do a traffic study for the next six to nine months to measure the impact of opening.

Vallee has argued Costco's increased traffic will impact his business.

Costco’s lawyer told us they don’t comment on pending litigation.