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Leesburg Council postpones vice mayoral appointment, OKs Costco expansion

Leesburg’s new Town Council settled down to business Tuesday with two uncontroversial public hearings and a unanimous decision to postpone its appointment of vice mayor.

Councilmembers Thomas Dunn and Fernando “Marty” Martinez moved to push the second-in-command decision to the Jan. 24 meeting since newcomer Hugh Forsythe was not in attendance. Mayor Kelly Burk agreed.

A retired Air Force major general and board member of Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, Forsythe was unanimously selected as interim councilmember Monday night after the council discussed his appointment in a closed-door session.

Councilman Ken Reid, who voted against the closed session, was the only member to address the controversial session Tuesday: “The mayor handled it very well ... It was transparent. There were no backroom deals.”

Leesburg’s Planning Commission approved both of the council’s public hearing items last year, and no citizens came out to speak.

One hearing considered changint the town’s sign ordinances to reflect the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona. In the case, a pastor successfully sued a town for having stricter requirements for political and religious signs.

“In order to protect ourselves, we need to amend the ordinance,” Zoning Administrator Christopher Murphy said.

Leesburg added language so that the town cannot discriminate against free speech, placed the same standards on commercial and noncommercial signs and reduced the number of sign categories to make the law more straightforward. Council members passed the measure unanimously.

In the other hearing, council gave Costco a special permit to expand by more than 8,000 square feet. The wholesale store will be adding a 2,800-square-foot seasonal outdoor section along the side of the building facing Edwards Ferry Road. While this fenced section will take up parking spaces for several months of the year, net parking will increase because Costco plans to re-stripe its lot.

Costco will also construct a 3,340-square-foot retail addition, a 1,920-square-foot cooler area and an 840-square-foot tire bay. In response to neighbors’ concerns about noise, the store will build noise mitigation materials into the new structures and ask delivery trucks to park in front of the store overnight.

“I do appreciate the responsiveness of Costco on being a good neighbor,” Councilman Ron Campbell said.

Councilman Martinez recused himself from the vote because several relatives have worked at Costco, so the measure passed 5-0-1-1.


Thanks to Google maps, I was able to save myself a trip. I think what they have done is an optical illusion to coerce drivers to park more centered in the spaces, thus helping to ensure even spacing for door openings. I have a feeling, when you measure one edge of that ‘double-line’ to the corresponding edge of the next ‘double-line’, you’ll get 9’.  Only now w/ this discussion do I realize, I’ve seen this before somewhere, some place, over the course of life.  Who thinks about parking lot stripes?? Right. If those spaces are larger than 9’ wide, then yes would seem they could shrink them and gain spaces across the field of parking. If they are, or end up, less than 9’, I’d strongly question whether they have the approval to go less than 9’ on all the parking (‘compact’ space dimensions are another story, but those spaces should be signed as such).

RQS, I was at Costco last night but hadn’t yet read your post.  However, I noted they have a unique double-line stripe between spaces with about an 8” gap between lines.  Based off this article, I was wondering if they would go to a single line, thus shrinking each space by 8-ish inches.

I will geek-out with a tape measure next visit.

I wouldn’t argue with your 1st paragraph analysis. I’d only say, my experience with car buying, repairs, etc. has led me to understand that vehicle dimensions, more so width than length, is regulated, and I believe by the FHWA, for the simple fact that the standard practical lane width of roads and driveways (12’ is the DOT standard TMK) across the country is static, and hence, passenger vehicles need to be able to comfortably “fit” within a lane on on all public access-ways that any of us would plausibly take our vehicle on.  Given vehicle access to Canada and Mexico is easily done as well, one would assume that road widths in those countries is consistent with the US (or vice versa), though I’ve never been to either country, save for that one time in Tijuana but we don’t want to go there… 

From my knowledge of the building industry, typical drive aisle widths are 24’ minimum when double-loaded with 90-degree spaces like a typical commercial parking lot. Take your tape measure to COSTCO next time, and measure stripe to stripe, see what they have.  Maybe they are less, and violating their approved plans? Might be the explanation.  maybe the growth of vehicles means the 24’ standard doesn’t work anymore, and should larger? One would think big box stores would cater to their clients, not make them feel uncomfortable and hemmed in.

Purely unscientific, but my guess is the average vehicle at COSTCO is larger than average.  You could attribute that to a number of items such as COSTCO patrons usually have higher incomes and therefore will have larger vehicles, it attracts larger families, small business owners frequent COSTCO often , etc.  Purely a guess.

And, to John M’s point, the parking lot is difficult to navigate.  Squeezing in more spaces will make it even more difficult.  In itself, it likely isn’t going to make anyone not go there but, as I said, I’m noticing across the board quality cuts and they are, collectively, adding up to a COSTCO experience on the decline.  When the 1,400 acre Compass Creek development opens up, I will give it a try.  That is a LOT of open parking space.

Parking at Costco is already a disaster, I can’t imagine it getting any better with tighter spaces.

18’x9’ is a standard 90-degree parking stall - what is the Town regulation on such parking stalls, what dimensions exist now, and what dimensions would they change to (assuming that said new dimensions were permitted by the Town regulations?

Why does a person shopping at Costco “probably” operate a “large vehicle”? I can buy an 18-pack of paper towels at Giant or HT. Granted, I might only be able to get the 36-roll pack of TP at a warehouse store. But the characterization just isn’t necessary. Mom’s driving the ‘urban assault vehicle’ Chevy Suburban with a push-guard on the bumper take it to school, the dentist, and the grocery store. It’s not just for the warehouse store.

“While this fenced section will take up parking spaces…net parking will increase because Costco plans to re-stripe its lot.”

Meaning, they are going to shrink the size of the parking spaces.  I’d rather hope they don’t.  Having a full-sized parking space if one of the nice things about COSTCO and something people with large vehicles (and if you are shopping at COSTCO you probably have one) appreciate.  I’m still a COSTCO fan, but they’ve been trimming their quality across the board for the past couple of years.

If they keep whittling away at the COSTCO experience and the new Super Wal-Mart opens across town next year, I may not have a reason to go to COSTCO anymore.

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