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City of Stuart could rezone property to allow Costco to open first Treasure Coast store

Posted at 10:46 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 23:49:26-05

STUART, Fla. — This is good news to anyone wanting a new stop for wholesale shopping, but some say Costco’s choice of location is missing the mark.

Now, more opposition to the project is heating up from those who live and work near the proposed site.

Costco wants to develop just more than 29 acres of land along Kanner Highway between Indian Street and Monterey Road, near the Lychee Tree Nursery and Martin County High School.

The plan aims to have the Costco operating in 2021.

Next week, the city will hold a planning meeting to discuss changing the zoning of the land to commercial use, a necessary step for Costco to be able to move forward.

Costco’s plan is a 154,000 square foot project, which would also include 18 gas pumps, more than 1,000 parking spots, and additional retail and restaurant space.

Linda Kay Richards hopes the zoning change does not happen.

Her family has owned the Lychee Tree Nursery for decades.

“The Lychee tree Nursery has been in business for about 44 years. My father built it from the ground up,” Richards said.

The proposed Costco site backs right up to her property.

"I’m not against Costco. US 1 has a lot of opportunities. US 1 is our business corridor. It is where our development really should be focused,” Richards said.

She’s worried about traffic in front of the nursery becoming too heavy, as thousands of extra drivers would be expected to travel to Costco daily.

With Martin County High School nearby, she worries about students’ safety.

“And the more traffic is going to increase accidents,” Richards worried.

She understands the benefits for the city to open a Costco within city limits.

"The City of Stuart needs revenue,” Richards said.

Costco would also bring new job opportunities.

This is not the first time Costco has been met with opposition by Martin County residents.

In 2017, Costco pulled out of a proposed site in Palm City. The opposition was louder there, Richards said because she fears not everyone living near the proposed Costco site in Stuart knows exactly where the proposed site is located.

As she has canvassed neighborhoods to talk to residents, that was a concern she said she found.

“No one knew where it was going.”

Richards formed a ’Say no to Costco on Kanner' Facebook group.

Jennifer Snyder is also against the development. She works at the Nursery but also lives along the property line that could become adjacent to Costco.

“I'm one of the most affected people in this area by this Costco,” Snyder said.

Her home backs up, she said, to where the warehouse is planned. “All the semis will come behind here nearby son’s window.”

But there is also support for a Costco in Stuart, from people living in the county and out of the area.

Costco also planned to have shields to deflect light from the nursery’s property and Snyder’s home.

Richards hopes anyone else opposed to the proposed location will join her at a city planning meeting next week.

Richards and Snyder will both be voicing their concerns on January 17 at 5:30 at City Hall.

No action will be taken until commissioners meet later in the month and in February.

Richards is also planning a protest at the site on Friday at 5 p.m.