The Montgomery County Executive's legal team concluded this week that Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 12-07, which would have directly impacted Wheaton’s proposed Costco gas station, is not legal.
The zoning amendment would have required any gas station that processes more than $3.6 million gallons of fuel per year be located “at least 1,000 feet from any public or private school, or any park, playground, or hospital, or other public use, or any use categorized as a cultural, entertainment and recreation use.”
The proposed Costco gas station would be located 300 feet from the Kenmont Swim and Tennis Club and is the only gas station that would be directly affected if the zoning amendment passed.
Read the full PDF of the decision to the right.
The council’s legal team determined that the zoning amendment violates Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by unfairly targeting the Costco gas station.
They wrote that when statutes are challenged under Article 24 and the 14th Amendment, the courts examine whether the statute “provides a real and substantial relation to the public health, morals, safety and welfare of the citizens of this state.”
The ZTA was proposed to protect the public from potential health risks and traffic congestion generated by large gas stations.
However, the legal team determined that the size and siting standards in the amendment are extremely narrow, and “if health risks and traffic are truly a concern, then the ZTA would broadly apply to all gas stations.”
At the beginning of the month, county Executive Isiah Leggett announced his support for the gas station in a memo to the county council members in which he says the proposed Costco station is the only one impacted by the zoning amendment.
In their opinion, the legal team wrote, “the ZTA is narrowly tailored to prohibit a single proposed business and is not rationally related to the furtherance of a legitimate government objective.”
They concluded that the zoning amendment is unlawful because it would only apply to the Costco station and was created with the intention of prohibiting the station.
For more information and background on the gas station and zoning amendment, check out all our Costco gas station coverage in reverse chronological order.