By Martin Kidston
Costco wants to build a new superstore one mile west of the city limits on West Broadway, and it’s asking the city to annex the property.
Representatives of the wholesaler made the request this week to the Missoula City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee, prompting a larger discussion of infrastructure, annexation and shifting traffic patterns.
David Rogers, representing Costco, said the wholesaler plans to build a 154,000-square-foot commercial building and a 24-pump gas station on West Broadway. Efforts to build the project at another location in Missoula fell through when Costco and the property owner weren’t able to agree on terms.
“This has not been a short process,” said Rogers. “We’ve been looking for a number of years to relocate our existing warehouse to a site that would allow us to build a Costco with all the bells and whistles that Missoula deserves.”
According to the city, the store will likely generate 10,482 daily vehicle trips. That prompted questions and concerns from members of the City Council, especially if portions of that traffic are directed through a nearby neighborhood.
Drew Larson of Development Services said the development agreement requires Costco to install a traffic signal on West Broadway. It also requires the company to extend Mary Jane Boulevard from the new intersection on West Broadway south to Camden Street, located near Pleasant View Homes.
“It will provide additional ingress and egress to the property, taking traffic through Pleasant View Homes and connecting to England Boulevard,” said Larson. “Eventually, Mary Jane Boulevard will connect to Mullan Road.”
While the streets were built to “collector” specifications in anticipation of future growth, that shift in traffic and the lack of a growth plan for the area has some members of the City Council concerned.
Mary Jane Boulevard currently cuts through the center of Pleasant View Homes, with houses lining both sides of the street in a family-style neighborhood. Likewise, Flynn Lane passes in front of Hellgate School.
“I don’t want that neighborhood to be inundated with traffic,” said Ward 5 council member Julie Armstrong. “Bringing more traffic into that neighborhood would be a nightmare for those families.”
City Engineer Kevin Slovarp said Mary Jane was built wider to get traffic off Flynn Lane. While the area lacks an overall development plan, Slovarp said, Mary Jane was intended to serve as a collector street when it was built.
He recommended that the city require Costco to connect Mary Jane from Camdem to Broadway.
“We’ll want that for a couple of reasons,” he said. “We want to deemphasize Flynn Lane, as Flynn goes by the school. We don’t want a bunch of traffic going by the school.”
“I think it’s important this street is built,” she said. “It’s been in our plans for a very long time. Traffic connections with lots of grids is the best way to plan neighborhoods and reduce traffic because you’re sharing the load and spreading it out.”
The store’s chosen location one mile west of the city limits also prompted questions over the growth that’s likely to follow. If the city were to annex the property, as requested by Costco, it would create something of an island of city-owned land surrounded by the county.
“Anyone can petition to have their land annexed,” City Attorney Jim Nugent said. “You do not have to be contiguous to the city limits in order to be annexed. There’s no requirement that it be anywhere near the city limits.”
A public hearing has been set for Nov. 14.
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at email@example.com