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Opponents Reorganize to Face Wheaton Costco's New Gas Station Application

Costco has restarted the special exception process.

Opponents of the Costco gas station in Wheaton have formed a new umbrella group, separate from the Kensington Heights Civic Association, and are calling it The Stop Costco Gas Coalition.

Costco has restarted the special exception process for the gas station at Westfield Wheaton, but the new plans shift the gas station location so that it complies with the zoning text amendment passed by the Montgomery County Council this summer.

For background on the Costco gas station issue and Zoning Text Amendment 12-07, see Wheaton Patch's topics page.

The new location is east of the original proposed location, but remains in the mall parking lot that borders the Kensington Heights neighborhood. 

Cavan Wilk, a contributor to Greater Greater Washington, has already weighed in: "Altering a bad proposal so its location is a few feet to the east doesn't change that it's a bad idea."

Do you agree? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Mr CDT2 November 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Costco is playing by the rules. If the proposed station is a threat to health, then the mall itself is a threat to health. The health argument was not used to try to stop the construction of Costco, or of Dick's Sporting Goods, or of the full utilization of the mall. An economically healthy mall is good for Wheaton. If there is a human health threat to the neighborhood, let it first be documented with air emissions data. What if we find that the current air emissions are a threat to health; what do we do? Close the school? Close the swimming pool? Close the mall? Those are all questions that can't be addressed until there is sufficient air pollution emissions data. Let's stop the speculation and the scare campaign. Let's get some air pollution data that everyone can see so we can remove some of the emotion from this debate. The bottom line is that NOBODY wants to do anything to put Wheaton's children at risk. Nobody. Not elected officials, not the proponents of the gas station, not Costco. So, let's get some facts on the table as the special exemption process runs its course.
MocoLoco November 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
How can the queueing area for the gas station NOT be included in the site plan? The only way they can meet the 300' set-back is with Enron-style measurements.
macadoodle November 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Sure, all good, put most of the other smaller gas stations on University Boulevard out of business. Gee, that makes sense. Or does it? New revenue gained? But lots of old revenue lost. Scratch-your-head time in the People's Republic of Montgomery County which is devoid of all logic or common sense.
Wheaton mom November 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Current air quality IS a problem! That is why we hear so many warnings during the summer about poor air quality. The government actually tells us to avoid being outside (especially children and elderly) when the air quality is poor. Let us not forget that we have an impact on our environment and our environment also impacts us. There ARE inherent risks with a lot of industries and people who live in close proximity suffer from REAL health problems. It is naive to think that a mega gas station which will pump 12 million gallons of gas versus an average gas station that pumps only 1.3 million gallons will have no impact on the health of the families that live less than 100 feet (that is the length of a tractor trailer!!) will not be impacted. There is data! And the placement of a mega gas station is a choice and we need to make responsible choices that do not place infants, children with special needs, pregnant women, elderly and others in harms way.
Malcolm Wilson November 02, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Ask any of the gas station owners (Spaids, Freestate) how they feel about it. As noted before, Wheaton has lost 7-8 stations in the last 15-20 years and its not like its been a burden to get gas. And as much as costco has a right to re-submit, so do the neighbors who oppose it. Costco is buying more ill will than good by continuing to push this. Add to the bad air quality concerns those of increased traffic in the Plaza. Hard enough to manuever in and out of there.
TaL November 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Doing business in MoCo Step 1-attempt to invest in an area Step 2-NIMBY Step 3-attempt to satisfy NIMBY Step 4-Have the county pass a law driven by NIMBY to prevent step 1 Step 5-Comply with law, have NIMBY get new law go back to step 2 Step 6-Give up and move your investment to VA where they iike jobs and communities with ammenities MoCo -- Where the jobs/stores aren't the same rubric holds true if you attempt to use market based wages (non-union) or dont kowtow to the check cashing/money laundering/drug money lobby (LEDC)
Holly Agouridis November 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I want people who actually live near the mall to voice their concerns. If you don't live near here you have no idea what the traffic is going to be like. It is already a disaster and then during the holidays it's impossible. We have enough gas stations here already. Are you going to sit in traffic for an hour to get gas so you gave save a couple if dollars? I don't think so.
macadoodle November 02, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Ms Holly above is absolutely correct. COSTCO buyers will drive into the area & go back to their comfortable residences far away from the deteriorating, third-world-looking Wheaton/Kensington area where the bureaucrats are busy building sidewalks and bike lanes while the roads have enough bumps and quarries to rival those in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Homewood resident November 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
what bike lanes?
Sasha November 02, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Seriously? Only people far away from Wheaton will drive to Wheaton to buy gas and then leave? But nobody in the immediate area will make use of a cheap gas station? That's some bogus nonsense there.
Ktown mom November 02, 2012 at 06:41 PM
The new proposed location puts the mega station within 1000 feet of a school for disbled kids. Some students there are medically fragile, on oxygen and can spend their entire school years at that school. The cars lining up for gas will be idling even closer to them. Please find a differnet spot in Wheaton. Use some common sense.
Cassandra Caverly November 02, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I live close to the Wheaton mall and I am a Costco shopper. I think the Costco gas station is a terrible idea. The community does not want it so why should it be forced on us? I have NEVER purchased Costco gas simply because the lines of idling cars at any location are far too long and not worth the effort. I doubt it will be any different at the Wheaton location. Also, the Costco in Brandywine has far more square footage outside the store than the Wheaton location and cars at Brandywine sit and idle for 20 minutes or more. There is not enough space for this activity , there is barely enough parking at this location. Traffic on the wheaton mall circle is atrocious as is. I am sure my trips there will decrease significantly so as not to have to deal with the traffic.
Holly Agouridis November 02, 2012 at 07:37 PM
In live 5 minutes from Wheaton plaza and the Giant for 9 years and I have probably been to the mall and the Giant 10 times . I go to the Columbia Mall and Giant on my lunch break and it is much better. At Wheaton parking sucks and it is always congested. Wait until the gas station comes. Those who are for it are going to the first ones complaining. Watch.
Susan S. Berkheimer November 02, 2012 at 07:43 PM
The Stephen Knolls Special Center students are a great concern for this ill thought- out Costco Gas Station. When there was a Shell gas station it was on the Wendy's part of the Wheaton Plaza facing the Viers Mill Road entrance. It may have had room for 6-8 cars. This gas station is going to impact the safety of the students who frequently go to Wheaton Westfield Shopping Center for walks or are taken in their wheelchairs to go look at the windows in the shopping center. I had been a substtute teacher for many years at Stephen Knolls Special Center,so apparently you do not know anything about the students that would be in harm's way, and be threatened by the air pollution that would come from the Costco gas station.Where do you live ? The neighborhood families,the pets, the school,the students the pool, the members of the Kenmont pool would all be affected by the smell of gasoline fumes.This area does not need a mega gasoline station. We have plenty of gasoline stations in our neighborhood now.If you work at a gasoline station, your uniforms are sent out to be cleaned. You do not take them home with you to put in with your familily's clothing to be washed. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be against the Costco gas station.
Karen Cordry November 02, 2012 at 08:13 PM
There are several things to keep in mind about this station even if you leave aside the health issues (hard to do with 30-40 cars routinely idling near homes and schools). One, this station is as big as 6-8 normal stations, so it's not a "gain one, lose one" situation. Two, there are already between 25-30 stations in a couple mile radius, who needs more? Three, those stations stay open longer and have other amenities that Costco does not -- if they close due to Costco coming, the entire neighboring areas loses services. Four --only 25% of the area is expected to be Costco members, so 100% of use will suffer for "benefits" that only 25% at best will enjoy. Not a great tradeoff!
Danila Sheveiko November 02, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Let's just remember that this will be by far the busiest gas station in Montgomery County. My family has been shopping at Costco for fifteen years, but we maintain that Costco gas stations belong in industrial parks and next to highway interchanges - not 125 feet from single-family residences in a metro-served transit-oritented urban arts & entertainment district that Wheaton strives to be! Please see uploaded above graphics and images that speak louder than words.
Danna Walker (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I went to the Panera at the mall today and the parking lot was virtually full, and the Costco, which uses the same parking lot, hasn't opened yet!
Diane Cameron November 03, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Mega-gas-stations pumping cheap gas are helping to accelerate Climate Change. Say hello to more frequent hurricanes, more intense floods and more droughts and heat waves.
MocoLoco November 03, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Danna--remember that the County approved a reduction in parking spaces for the Costco. The accommodations that the county is giving this store are unending, and this doesn't bode well for its consideration of the gas station.
Commentous November 03, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I have never had a problem parking at the Giant where I've been several hundred times. With the construction, I've had to park further from the Target than I'd like, but there have always been spaces. Maybe if you go to the Wheaton Mall on your lunch break in the middle of the week, like you do in Columbia, you'll find it less congested there than on your 10 visits over 9 years.
MocoLoco November 03, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Diane--the most credible climate models assume that all of the world's gas is going to be burned up. If we don't burn it here in the US, it will be burned in China, or India. One way or another, it's going into the atmosphere. In fact, the best thing we can do is all drive Hummers or other gas guzzlers, so we can get rid of the gas and force a move past the internal combustion engine. So long as there gas, whether it's at $3, $4, or $5/gallon, we are stuck with gas-powered cars.
Danila Sheveiko November 04, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Dear MocoLoco, surely the best thing can't be for us to burn oil in Hummers. Petroleum is also used to make a myriad of plastics and advanced materials, medicines, fertilizer, etc. In any event, we are past the peak of global oil production, and other countries are busy weaning themselves off of oil to stay competitive in the long run. Shouldn't we do the same just to keep up?
KMary November 05, 2012 at 12:23 AM
The law currently says Costco may NOT put in a gas station, of any size much less the biggest one the whole county has ever seen. That's why Costco is applying for a Special Exception to bring in a gas station. Why would we give them an exception to set a precedent for building the largest gas station closer to houses and schools than Costco has ever built a gas station anywhere in the country? This is not a NIMBY issue, this is a NI-Anyones-BY issue.
Joy Johnson November 05, 2012 at 12:58 AM
A gas station will put out a lot of fumes, and toxic chemicals. If you sit on any porch anywhere close to a road, you can smell, feel and taste the exhaust of the cars. The Wheaton Mall is now a HUGE mall with less parking than it has ever had, and will be an absolute mess for shopping, especially around the Christmas holidays. Gas stations add to the toxic fumes, because of running cars, and the input of gas into a car, where other types of toxic fumes are emitted. The issue is not whether a gas station is a good idea in wheaton, it is whether it is a good idea so close to where people want to (and might I add, have been doing for many years) sit outside and enjoy family gatherings, cook outs, play, and basic property enjoyment without being concerned with added threats to health. It is not a difficult issue to understand, unless narcisistic thoughts are prominent. I am personally sorry that the gas station has even been suggested, as it leaves nearby neighborhoods wondering who the mall is really concerned about (or should I say 'what'). All money is not good money. And believe me, COSTCO will make enough money without a gas station to justify their long time residence on this site.
macadoodle November 05, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Money talks whether on or under the table. Toxic fumes? Not an issue for the County Executive and the Council. Increased traffic and perhaps even an escalation in crime? Not important. (Check the latest statistics on armed robbery in Wheaton). Putting other gas stations out of business? Incidental. Not a betting person but would be willing to bet that WE THE PEOPLE will lose this one as they have so many others in a one-party County and State. However, a peculiar form of amnesia sets in during the political process. Can guarantee that after the storm has died down, come election time, the same people will be voted in regardless of their stands on the issues or their previous actions. The strains of kumbaya will echo in the air and those that opposed WE THE PEOPLE will win by comfortable margins.
Interrobang November 05, 2012 at 02:32 PM
What money and public amenities have been lavished on Kemp Mill?
Mike Smith November 05, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Wheaton Sports Pavilion in Wheaton Regional Park. LIbrary and Recreation Center scheduled to be built on Arcola Avenue and not in the central business district because of the Save Our LIbrary Coalition which identifies itself on its website http://www.savewheatonlibrary.com/ as the "Wheaton/Kemp Mill community"
Kim de Groot November 08, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I am really looking forward to approval of the gas station. It conforms to the new law and means that my local gas tax, if any, will now go to MoCo instead of Frederick or PG. I like that!
Wayne E Courtney November 15, 2012 at 02:19 AM
I have to strongly disagree that the lack of gas stations in Wheaton has not been a burden. There are more gas stations in Kensington than in Wheaton yet Kensington Heights has the nerve to complain about Costco. Try to get gas in Kensington. With the gridlock during both rush hours, the limited access roads during rush hours, makes it impossible. Rush hour traffic, 6 gas stations in less than a half mile stretch in kensington are far more toxic than a gas station at the mall. The excuses used against the gas station are factless. The inconveniencing of thousands for the baseless concerns of a private swimming pool and ill managed civic association is rediculous. Bring on Costco Gas. Wayne Courtney
Joe Galvagna December 07, 2012 at 04:08 AM
What planet are you from Cameron that global stuff is crap we all know it wake up.

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