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2008-12-28
Brookfield, CT. Citizens Fight Costco Over Relocation Plan

Residents in Brookfield, Connecticut have organized to block the construction of a Costco warehouse store in their community. Brookfield is a small community (population roughly 16,500). Many of the historic structures in town have been preserved and in 1991 most buildings in Brookfield Center's Historic District were named to the National Register of Historic Places. The giant retailer Costco currently has a store on Federal Road in Brookfield, but wants to relocate to a bigger store across Junction Road (Route 133) from the Lutheran Church. "Aside from causing traffic stress now with the current store location on Federal Road," the group Brookfield First writes, "our local Costco seems to be a good commercial neighbor. They pay taxes, keep their property clean, and sell merchandise at good value. Business must be good, because the parking lot is usually full and checkout lines are long. And while we would prefer they solve the parking and traffic problems at their current Federal Road site, they have the right to move their store anywhere legally permitted for that use, as long as they comply with local regulations." Brookfield First opposes Costco for three reasons: 1) Home real estate values in traffic feeding areas will drop from any megastore on the site; 2) Traffic problems, stress and accidents will sky-rocket; 3) Common sense says: Do not put a megastore across a two lane road from two large churches with schools. Especially when the same road is the major in and out path for school buses carrying kids and home owners going back and forth to work... Here in Connecticut, the process of getting special building and zoning exceptions can be long and arduous. Moving building plans and permits through the various jurisdictional boards, commissions and regulators is done through lawyers, meetings, obtuse documents and negotiations. The issues of wetlands that protect the watershed providing clean water and traffic are key factors in determining what kind of building can be built where. The proposed move to Junction Road appears to need special exceptions from normal land use regulations. So far, the Costco plan seems to have captured the special exceptions needed move through the Brookfield Wetlands Commission successfully. The remaining issue is traffic. A Traffic Impact and Access Study was prepared for Costco. The study quotes traffic rates through the area, accident rates and reviews the real estate taxes for both the current Federal Road Costco site versus the proposed Junction Road site. Not surprisingly, the study estimates tax revenue to Brookfield will increase and any traffic increase is marginal. The traffic conclusion defies common sense, but the geographic map used as the basis of the study is nothing short of amazing... Traffic will be an important part in the phase of COSTCO's permitting. Because the multi-step permitting process is complex and can move forward without public awareness, it seems a project can move forward by stealth from the public eye. Therefore, it is critical the public become involved in the next step in the Costco approval process: a Zoning Commission public meeting scheduled for January 14, 2009 -- 7:00 PM - at Brookfield High School. Please attend to voice your opposition."

What you can do: The Brookfield First argument continues: "Planning for the growth of our town has been haphazard at best, and generally influenced by local politicians who cater to the special interests of their friends, family and business associates connected with the commercial and residential real estate industry, a private water company and other businesses that support these constituencies. Costco, in complete disregard for local public opinion and the best interest of the community and its local customers, is seeking to exploit the support of the local politicians and special interest groups, and is proposing to build a larger big-box super store with liquor retail on one of the last remaining historic farm properties in our town thereby destroying the rural character of our community and creating traffic congestion of epic proportions. Don't be fooled! Don't let Brookfield's rural character be forever ruined by a major shopping center in our backyard." Brookfield First is urging readers to email Costco CEO Jim Sinegal at jsinegal@costco.com with the following message: "Dear Mr. Sinegal, please cease your company's actions to develop rural farmland and ruining small communities such as Brookfield, Connecticut. Brookfield has roughly 16,500 people, and does not need a larger store." Readers can also sign the Brookfield First petition at: http://www.stopcostco.com. Finally, readers are urged to contact Brookfield's First Selectman, Robert Silvaggi at: firstselectman@brookfield.org with the following message: "I urge you to oppose the frivolous relocation of Costco. This scale project is totally incompatible with the small town character of Brookfield. While Costco may consider this a way to gain market share in Brookfield, their project does not mean more jobs or revenue, because they will largely draw their expanded sales from existing merchants, adding little or no value economically to Brookfield. The community gets more traffic, the homes nearby will suffer a decline in value. That's all you will get. Moving this store a few miles is wasteful of land and resources, and inharmonious with other land uses in the area. I hope you will testify to the Zoning Commission in January that this project is not a good use for the site on Junction Road."










 
 
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