Major grocery retailer Costco is facing a legal challenge in its home state of Washington. Residents of Lake Stevens, WA (a town about 45 miles north of their central headquarters) have filed a lawsuit to prevent the chain from opening a new retail location in their town. The group, called Livable Lake Stevens, has a history of fighting against Costco’s expansion into their neighborhood. This lawsuit is one of several similar suits the residents have filed over the past three years with the express purpose of denying Costco the opportunity to build on land that they own. The resident group has also held multiple protests at city council meetings trying to stop development at the site.
This time, the residents filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Army Corps of Engineers. The 40 acre plot was recently allowed to start fill dirt operations, despite the fact that the property contains wetland areas. The plaintiffs believe that the process to gain proper permitting to fill wetlands at the site was rushed. Several experts, however, have remarked that the lawsuit is likely the last attempt that can be made to prevent the store from starting construction.
Many of the residents are concerned about an increase in traffic through their neighborhoods. In fact, one study estimated a nearly 50% increase in traffic on major roads within a one mile radius of the store. Members of Livable Lake Stevens point to this study as the main reason why the store should not be built in their area.
There are, however, many residents in Lake Stevens, Wa who want to see the Costco open in their neighborhood. Costco has a reputation for high wages, and the company’s press releases regarding the expansion are quick to point out their $24 an hour average salaries. These retail positions also come with benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. With a typical store bringing approximately 275 new jobs to an area, there are many people in Lake Stevens who want to see the store open as soon as possible.
For now, everyone will have to wait and see what the courts decide in the federal lawsuit.