On Thursday, February 28, the County's five-member Planning Board will vote whether or not to support the zoning exception needed for the mega gas station Costco wants to build at Wheaton Plaza. This vote is not the end of the County's decision process but could be an important influence on the ultimate decision makers. Planning Department professional staff have written a report to help Board members decide how to vote. As a station opponent I found this statement on page 1 heartening: “Staff recommends denial of the proposed special exception request.”
The Costco station would have space for 45 cars to idle while they wait to fill up. The potential health impacts of fumes from those idling cars is a principal motivation for the staff recommendation. Here's some of what they had to say:
“Applicant's analyses and assertion of no adverse health impacts is based on insufficient information, and may have understated the exposure of the adjacent population to some of the toxics.” (p. 2)
“Staff also disagrees with the Applicant's cancer risk analysis . . . we question the Applicant’s low assessment of residential exposure rates to these carcinogens.” (p. 2)
A carbon monoxide hotspot will be created that is “similar to those created at intersections. However, unlike an intersection hotspot, which dissipates over a wider area, the hotspot created with this gas station will not dissipate as quickly” (p. 12)
“the Applicant only considered the Mall property as its neighborhood, which disregarded the effect . . . on the residential homes” (p. 14)
“the effects of the Wheaton air quality hotspot will be extended into the adjacent residential community. The proposed gas station will constitute a nuisance because of fumes at the subject Site” (p. 22)
You can find information on participating in the Planning Board meeting where the vote will take place here. The staff report and its appendices are available at the same link, I also uploaded a copy of the report to this blog posting for your use.