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.