BELLINGHAM - In a letter to Costco Wholesale, Mayor Kelli Linville spelled out a list of potential citywide economic development-related policies, not any steps that would benefit Costco exclusively, Linville said.
The June 20 letter to Costco - obtained by The Bellingham Herald on Thursday, Aug. 2, through a public disclosure request - included a list of steps the city is proposing to help Costco build a new store along West Bakerview Road across from Fred Meyer. Costco says its current Bellingham store is too small. The company won't comment to the media on its plans in specific markets.
"I'm committing to looking at overall needs for economic development for the city, and that area in particular, so that we're not doing a Costco-specific thing, that anything we talk about is something that we'd want to have be a city policy," Linville said Friday.
Much of the letter was redacted by city attorneys, citing a state law that allows them to withhold some draft documents.
"We are not at the point where we're public about some of these things," Linville said. "It's not that we're making decisions, but we do have negotiations that go on that we don't like to do in the newspaper."
Left un-redacted in the letter was a proposal to have the city take the lead in building Dover Street, which would go north from Bakerview Road near Fred Meyer.
Linville said Dover would act as a driveway into Costco and a connector road through the area. Costco and the city could share the costs, she said.
The letter also said the city is currently planning to extend Horton Road, which would likely reduce congestion at Interstate 5 and Bakerview Road, and it would commit to building the Division Street connector in the next five to 10 years, a project that would provide direct access from Dover Street to Pacific Highway.
Linville said the roads are part of a regional plan they're discussing. They're looking at transportation needs in the northwest region of the city, an area where companies would like to locate, she said.
In the letter, Linville wrote that any agreement is subject to City Council approval and legal review.
"This is not something that will not get public scrutiny, because it will," she said.
She doesn't have a timeline for bringing potential policy changes to the council, she said.
Reach JARED PABEN at email@example.com or call 715-2289.