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Costco Gas On The Ropes

Corrected Costco Isopleths
Corrected Costco Isopleths
After a four year battle, it appears that a grassroots coalition of civic activists, homeowners, and environmental organizations concerned about quality of life issues has Costco on the ropes in the politically-connected corporation's determined effort to force a mega gas station into Montgomery County's Wheaton Urban District.

Kensington Heights, the community that borders Westfield Mall in Wheaton, sacrificed on delivery truck noise, compromised on the traffic, and did not oppose the bulk retailer Costco on the condition that their concerns would be addressed. The community's civic association rolled up their sleeves and prepared to engage in good faith negotiations about pedestrian walkways, forest preservation, responsible stormwater and public safety measures. However, when they learned the company intended to locate the highest volume gas station in the county adjacent to residences, a community pool and a school for disabled children, they balked. When residents attempted to negotiate an alternative location for the mega station, they encountered a corporate attitude that sent a clear message: community concerns were of no interest and Costco intended to construct and operate the gas station no matter the political payoffs and legal wrangling required.

In a surprising turn of events, Costco's arrogance and resulting sloppiness paid dividends. A series of mathematical errors in its air pollution modeling were identified by a civic leader. The corrected numbers indicate that the project would violate EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 190 micrograms per square meter of nitrogen oxide by emitting up to 388 μg/m3, more than double what is allowed.

On Wednesday, the County Board of Appeals will hear the Motion for Summary Disposition filed by the community's lawyer asking that the gas station application be denied. If the case is decided on the merits, Costco's own numbers now doom its unfriendly bid to add a high volume gas station to this traffic-ridden neighborhood struggling to hold on to its small town feel.  If the community prevails, a David will have delivered a black eye to a Goliath, and Costco may step more carefully the next time it seeks special treatment as it did in this savvy and politically capable neck of the woods.

Board of Appeals takes up Motion for Summary Disposition

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013, 9:30am
Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville - check at 2nd Floor Guard Desk for room number

The Motion to the Board of Appeals was filed because Costco's own expert admitted on the stand to a major mathematical error in his air quality model where he divided when he should have multiplied.  Since the corrected results of Costco's own science are not in dispute, the motion seeks summary judgment of Costco's Special Exception.
David Elder September 09, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Here here. Their own figures state it would be way over safety limits and yet now they persist by trying to change the math...it would be laughable if it wasn't such despicable behavior. Lets hope common sense and the local community beats out corporate greed and 'profit at any cost' this time.
MocoLoco September 10, 2013 at 05:57 PM
This is an opinion piece. I'd certainly prefer no Costco gas, but to state that the gas station would emit up to 388 ug/m3 is simply not correct. Yes, the gas station would cause waiting cars to idle, which would cause vehicle emissions in the area. But, the state already controls those emissions through its tailpipe testing program (which, for better or worse, doesn't really test tailpipe emissions anymore). This op-ed piece really overstates the impact. And, remember that the baseline against which the increase is measured is an air monitor in Arlington, VA. NAAQS is meant to be a relevant standard for large areas. It's being misused here.
Danila Sheveiko September 10, 2013 at 07:06 PM
@ MocoLoco - Maryland is already 40th on air quality and DC metro area already has the worst traffic in the nation. Also, your statement about the VA baseline air monitor is inaccurate - to learn more about this matter, please visit www.stopcostcogas.org
Costco Gas Man September 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Costco should close and move somewhere else in the county. The neighborhood will suffer from gas emissions simply if Costco is successful so it's a phony argument at best on the local neighbor's part. The gas station, if constructed, must comply with county, state and federal emissions standards. Are those standards correct? If so, this is all so much BS. If you don't like being around a shopping center sell your house and move.
Judy Higgins September 11, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Really?! A shopping center is clearly not the same as a mega gas station...

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