Maine’s first Costco store would be at the intersection of Payne Road and Scarborough Downs Road and be part of the Scarborough Downs Innovation District. Rendering provided by CostcoWholesale

SCARBOROUGH — Costco Wholesale Development presented their formal site plan review to construct a 161,000-square-foot retail facility and accessory gasoline filling station at the Innovative District at the Downs.

Costco is in the early planning stages to bring its first location in Maine at the former Scarborough Downs horse track site. On Monday, June 27, Costco Wholesale Development met with the Scarborough Planning Board to propose their formal site plan review. 

“The board conducted two sketch plan applications back in the winter and spring where we talked about a lot of issues, and the result of that was a pre-application to staff,” said Senior Planner Eric Sanderson. “The staff then reviewed that pre-application to which Costco and their engineers, and their team responded to that, and those responses have been included in the current site plan application in front of the board for its review. In one of the preliminary comments we had, we had some concerning stormwater detailing, but one of the larger issues was traffic considerations for the project. On the traffic side of things, our apparent traffic engineer review team identifies some preliminary comments for Costco to respond to.” 

“The primary traffic concern that our peer engineer review team and staff had to do with the distribution of trips to and from this regional destination, which could have impacts on the turning lane lengths entering the site, especially from Payne Road as well potential offsite improvements,” said Sanderson. 

The company addressed the board’s previous concern about the size of the parking lot on the proposed site at The Downs, its impact on abutting wetlands, and it asked for waivers to town ordinances on parking lot driving lanes and the height of the light poles. Costco developers said that the local wetlands will be protected via landscaping buffers and by replenishing the wetlands by stormwater drainage. The Department of Environmental Protection has supported this. 

“The site driveways have been designed for this use for the amount of traffic expected to this site,” said Development Director for M&R Holdings Dan Bacon. “We worked on the driveway locations balancing wetland impacts along the Downs Road to put that driveway in the best possible place for access but also for minimizing wetland impacts.” Through that kind of design process and working with Costco, they have also designed this site to preserve the most amount of wetlands possible along the Downs Road as you come into the Downs; that green gateway into the Downs shields the parking in the building largely from the view of the Downs Road, and that was also out of an effort to round environmental protection.” 


The Planning Board discussed potential traffic problems along Payne Road. One of the board members said that the proposed Costco gas station poses traffic issues. They said a dedicated right-turn lane is needed due to the merge on that section of the road. Board member Richard DuPerre said that he Town Councilor favor of the project but was not going to be in favor of the entrance without a turning lane.  

Other board members agreed with DuPerre stating that the lines at the gas station could extend to Payne Road and insisted that a turning lane be added to the plans for traffic so as not to back up on Payne Road. 

The last issue that Costco developers discussed was requesting a waiver for the board to permit smaller lanes between parking spaces and taller light poles in the parking lot. According to town mandates, driving lanes between spaces need to be at least 25 feet wide and set light poles at a standard height of 20 feet — the site plan for Costco request 24-foot-wide lanes and 36 1/2-foot light poles. The parking lot had been previously discussed at the January and March Planning Board meetings.

“Let me just say that in terms of comments in general we have received a great many letters and emails all concerning Costco of both pros and cons,” said Planning Board Chair Rachel Henderson. “Let me just be clear that this body does not look at the nature of the organization that is before us and that is not part of the ordinances, it could be a wonderful company, it could be a lousy company. What is before us is what that company is proposing.” 

The board asked Costco representatives to present the need for a light-pole waiver and plans for a turning lane into the gas station the next time they meet.


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