Costco Gas Station Hearings Delayed Indefinitely

The introduction of a zoning text amendment directed toward large gas stations is what precipitated this fourth postponement.

A in the Montgomery County Council has disrupted the special exception process for the proposed Costco gas station at Westfield Wheaton.

The Montgomery County Board of Appeals has postponed four scheduled days of hearings in June before the Hearing Examiner, although not for the reasons put forth by the Kensington Heights Civic Association and its coalition. Both sides (Costco and the Kensington community groups) must propose new dates by May 12.

The scheduled May 17 hearing for the special exception before the Montgomery County Planning Board has also been indefinitely postponed.

The KHCA filed a motion for continuance, earlier this month for a special exception for the proposed gas station at Westfield Wheaton. But although Hearing Examiner Martin Grossman concluded that Costco had not violated any procedures, he wrote that the Board of Appeals granted the request for two reasons.

First, that the hearing examiner should wait upon action from the county council regarding the ZTA in order “not to squander the resources of the Petioner, the community and the County” since a positive vote on the ZTA would block the special exception. Second, this is the first time that Costco’s opponents have asked for a delay, whereas Costco has already : “A sense of fairness dictates that the first request of the opposition for a continuance must receive due consideration.”

Costco representatives have repeatedly said that they would prefer to continue with the special exception route. “We were told to go through the special exception process, and we’re going through it,” said Jeff Ishida, vice president of real estate for Costco’s East Coast Division, at the earlier this month. “We really don’t see the need for the ZTA.”

A public hearing for the ZTA is scheduled for June 19 in Rockville.

Meanwhile, the Kensington Heights Civic Association is fighting to raise money to pay for legal costs and to hire its own experts to examine the potential public health impacts of the Costco gas station, which will abut the Kensington Heights neighborhood and the Kenmont Swim & Tennis Club.

Larry Silverman, an adjunct professor of environmental law and policy at Johns Hopkins University, told members of the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee Tuesday night that a consultant’s report would be available May 10, showing air pollution impacts. Donna Savage, Silverman, and other KHCA members attended the meeting to present their case to WUDAC and ask for support. WUDAC seemed sympathetic, but said it wants to take its time deliberating before giving an official statement.

ED May 09, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I believe this is a wise decision by Mr. Grossman. Hopefully, the zoning text amendment will pass and relieve all neighborhoods from the worry that these mega-gas stations will be located close to their recreational facilities or schools.
Karen Cordry May 09, 2012 at 06:21 PM
What is important to realize is that this size station doesn't belong close to anyone's home, school, or recreational facility. It will pump six to eight times the gas of a typical station and the current rules just aren't set up to recognize and deal with such huge stations. The move to these "hyperstations" (in the words of the National Convenience Stores Associations, many of whose members operate the traditional type of station) only began in the mid to late 1990s nationwide but has continued to accelerate. Montgomery County, though, has few if any such stations and the current zoning rules for gas stations that were adopted before these giant stations became popular need to be updated. The time to do that is now before others come in and try to build under outmoded rules. Let the Council know you agree!
Danila Sheveiko May 09, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I just wish Costco and Westfield would just drop the whole gas station idea and address the community's other concerns. Having already spent thousands of hours and dollars, in our third year of battling billion-dollar corporations, we desperately need help. Please see uploaded images above. HELP!!!
Maria Fusco May 10, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Everyone should know that the EPA is working on/already passed? a change to gas stations. Presently there is a way to help "catch" emissions given off @ gas pump (which COSTCO employees were espousing); and now many NEW cars are coming equipped w/similar devices; so, the "Clean Air" is being updated to make it more lax/ not as stringent on gas stations... who knows, maybe Costco waiting for this to really pass. Dan get in touch w/Judy for my email if you want this info. though I sent to Judy as well.
vinniegambini May 11, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Just build the thing and people will come!! Everyone forgets there used to be a gas station where Wendy's now sits.
rumba101 May 21, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Speaking on behalf of mid- to low- level white collar workers, I support the construction of the gas station. It will translate into considerable cost savings for many of us. As another pointed out, there was a gas station where Wendy's used to be and it was fine.
Danila Sheveiko May 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Dear Rumba: Just to make sure we are on the same page - do you dispute the latest science about health risk or do you think that cheap gasoline outweighs all other concerns?


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