The Scarborough Planning board approved plans to construct Maine’s first Costco Wholesale at the intersection of Payne Road and Scarborough Downs Road in The Downs development on Monday, Aug. 29. Plans call for a 161,000-square-foot retail facility and accessory gas station.

During the meeting, board members expressed general satisfaction with the wholsesale membership company’s compliance with Planning Board concerns. Planning Board Chair Rachel Hendrickson approved the company’s efforts to improve her previous safety concerns about passage ways.

However, Planning Board member Rick Meinking said he still had concerns over the intensity of the lights in the parking lot.

“Looking at your average admittance, your lighting is much brighter than what IES (Illumination Engineering Society) recommends,” he said, noting that the plan’s emission of light in its parking lot is 3.4 footcandles while IES recommends 1.5.

“My concern,” Meinking said, “is as you come in and you’re looking down is this going to be looking like a sport venue.”

Costco representative Michelle Carlson said the lights would not look like a stadium “sport complex lights. We’ve worked on sports complexes. I’m sure you’ve seen them. I mean they’re an excess of 70 feet tall. Football stadiums, even high school stadiums; its nothing like that. They’re not going to tower over and look out of place or out of character.”


“The key thing is, the 1.5 is functionally too low,” Costco wholesale Director of Development Mark Marchisano said. At 1.5 footcandles “it truly isn’t a safe venture for when you have a number of members traveling in a parking lot. … It doesn’t filter off the property. It doesn’t come across as a glowing light so our goal is to create a safe environment and we can control that by saying ‘as soon as we close we can lower.’”

“We’ll go down to 3 but I’m not going to go lower than 3,” Marchisano said. “And I’m going to be firm on that because I need to be safe for my members.”

“It’s not a dealbreaker for me,” Meinking said. “I was just merely trying to press a little bit that I think that there is a little bit of a compromise that can be made here.”

Costco representatives agreed to continue working with the Planning Department on what can be done about light levels.

Town officials said the Scarborough store would likely open late next year or in early 2024, according to The Forecaster. A spokesperson for Costco has said the company does not comment on any new store until it is three months away from opening.

The project at Payne and Scarborough roads is awaiting the go-ahead from the state Department of Environmental Protection, The Forecaster reported. Pending that approval, which Costco representatives said is expected in mid-September, Costco is working on local building permits.


The store will be located on 19.25 acres within the Downs mixed-use development, in close proximity to I-95 Exit 42.

“Significant traffic improvements are already complete or underway at Exit 42 and along the Payne Road corridor to improve traffic flow in this area of Scarborough and serve Costco and the larger development project,” according to the town. ‘These improvements will be completed well in advance of the store opening.”

The Costco store in Scarborough would be the first in Maine. According to the company website, there were 838 stores worldwide as of Aug. 25, with more in the offing. The company’s annual revenue as of the fiscal year ending Aug. 29 was $192 billion.

After approving the plan, the board congratulated the Costco representatives and Hendrickson said she looked forward to becoming a member of the wholesale company.

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