WHAT HAVE FOREST BUFFER CONSERVATION & WATERSHED PROTECTION GOT TO DO WITH A MEGA GAS STATION?
Plenty! As part of its struggle to block Costco's request for Special Exception to build a mega gas station in Westfield Wheaton Mall, the Stop Costco Gas Coalition is calling attention to the fact that Costco has not filed a Forest Conservation Plan, claiming an exemption that SCGC finds invalid (www.stopcostcogas.org).
Wheaton's Green Forested Buffer, a portion of which is owned by Westfield Group, is a thin 10-acre strip of woods that protects Kensington Heights residents from the air, noise, and light pollution generated by Wheaton Mall. The largest collection of trees in the entire Wheaton Sector Plan area, this forested buffer conveys stormwater from the Mall into Sligo, Silver and Rock Creeks. Westfield recently sold half the woods for upzoned transit-oriented residential development, and pierced the heart of remaining forest with bulldozers to construct an outfall that dumps stormwater from the Costco project into Silver Creek. This was done without a Forest Conservation Plan, in stark contrast to the spirit and letter of the Wheaton Sector Plan, as approved in 2011, to mandate additional protection and special status to Wheaton's green forested buffer.
Now Costco also wants to build a gas station, the busiest in Montgomery County, right above the headwaters of Silver Creek and next to single-family residences, and plans to do more work in the forested buffer with a Forest Conservation Exemption that is inaccurate and invalid. According to the SCGC, if Westfield & Costco are allowed to proceed, one of the results will be further damage to our dwindling forest buffer and further degradation of the groundwater that drains, via our regional watershed, into the Chesapeake Bay. The SCGC is urging concerned citizens to contact the Planning Board about this environmental injustice.