Panel recommends rezoning for Mooresville Costco

FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a shopper leaves a Costco store in Portland, Ore.
FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a shopper leaves a Costco store in Portland, Ore. AP

A Costco-anchored retail center should be allowed off Interstate 77 Exit 35, a divided Mooresville Planning Board recommended Thursday night.

The advisory panel voted 5 to 3 to recommend that 41 acres off Brawley School and Talbert roads be rezoned from residential to commercial for the project. The board makes recommendations to the Mooresville Board of Commissioners, which has final say and is scheduled to vote on the rezoning on March 21.

The Planning Board voted after hearing from 16 concerned residents of subdivisions across two-lane Talbert Road from the site. Two people in the real estate industry and a Huntersville man spoke in favor of the project.

Opponents argued the project doesn’t belong in a primarily residential area. They already have a difficult time turning left onto Talbert from their subdivisions, they said. They also showed pictures of backups on Brawley School Road, from Talbert to past St. Therese Catholic Church.

“Go to a neighborhood already zoned commercial,” said Jaylene Moss, who lives in the Meadows at Reed Creek subdivision on Talbert.

Turning around from the podium to look at Costco and other officials, she said, “It’s unfair of you to do that to all of these people.” Her comment drew applause from the packed crowd at Town Hall.

Planning Board members Rosalind Campbell, William Ogburn and Joseph Yanicak agreed the project belongs elsewhere. “If we had four-lane highways around there, it would make sense,” Yanicak said. Of Talbert Road, he said, “It’s at failure now.”

A majority, however, sided with town planning staff, who said the town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Brawley School Road Small Area Plan indicate the land is more suited for retail and commercial businesses because it’s so close to the interstate.

Board vice-chairman John Robertson said such change is inevitable in a growing town. He said Waterlynn Road, where he lives, once had nothing on it. Now it has townhomes, an assisted living center and soon will have a high school planned by Langtree Charter Academy.

The Costco-anchored center would be called Brawley Crossing. About $2.5 million in road and other improvements will be made, project officials said.

Costco would employ 200 workers at first and eventually 250, Erich BrannJr., Costco’s director of real estate development, told the Planning Board. Pay starts at $12 an hour. “We have the highest pay in the industry,” he said, and benefits are offered to every full- and part-time worker.

The center’s second, smaller anchor, Academy Sports + Outdoors, would employ 120 to 150 workers, said Dale Redman, the company’s senior real estate manager.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak