In a split decision during its meeting Tuesday, the San Ramon Planning Commission approved plans for a new 32-pump Costco gas station, a hotly debated project that some residents have taken issue with because of traffic and environmental concerns.
The commission voted 3-1 to approve the project during a nearly four hour meeting on Tuesday, after finding that the gas station would not adversely affect the city in a way that violated city policies.
"I've gotten to the point where I'm still uncomfortable with the scale of this project but I can't think of any solid reason to say no," commissioner Rick Marks said Tuesday.
"I have the feeling that the analysis that was done was as good as it could have been, and I have no problem with the professional work that was done either from the traffic people or from the air quality people. I don't believe that any other studies from another organization or more data is going to do anything other than add to people saying 'what's wrong with that study,'" he added.
Proposed to be located at the site of the Office Depot building on 3111 Fostoria Way, the gas station will serve the Costco warehouse store located across the city's border within Danville town limits; the Danville Costco Station located at 3150 Fostoria Way currently does not have a gas station.
The project will include a 12,663-square-foot canopy with signage on all sides, an approximately 200-square-foot control facility and associated site improvements and landscape enhancement on the 2.88-acre lot.
Some residents have expressed concerns over perceived traffic and environmental issues that could arise from the project, including a significant increase to traffic along Fostoria Way and a decrease in air quality resulting from the number of vehicles and gas station facilities.
The lone dissenting vote came from commissioner Howard Frank, who was left unconvinced that the project wouldn't cause detrimental harm to the city and neighborhood.
"I think Costco has made a compelling case that fueling, position, size, has no bearing on demand and will actually reduce idle times," Frank said. "On the other hand, much of the traffic study, and in turn some of the data that went into the air quality study, was based on what are admittedly proprietary numbers that are not fully known. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Costco -- and it's their right -- has not been entirely transparent on those numbers; and in my mind that prevents what I believe to be a fair apples-to apples-analysis."
Commissioner Gary Alpert recused himself from the conversation, saying he would do so out of an abundance of caution because he has a financial interest in the Costco Corporation.
Any resident opposed to the project has until Monday Dec. 28 to file an appeal challenging the project. If an appeal does go through, the gas station would be sent to the City Council for final deliberations.