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Costco Gas Station Opponents Look Beyond County

The Kensington Heights Civic Association shared some of its correspondence with the Maryland Department of the Environment at a news conference Monday.

Frustrated with what they perceive as a non-responsive county government,  opponents of the proposed Costco gas station at are trying to convince state and federal authorities to support their case: That a gas station located so close to a community is a serious public health hazard.

“The county doesn’t want to know,” said Larry Silverman, who teaches environmental law at Johns Hopkins University and has been advising the Kensington Heights Civic Association. “They think the way to win is to keep themselves ignorant.”

has come out against a zoning text amendment that would make it impossible for Costo to site its 16-pump gas station next to the Kensington Heights neighborhood. Silverman says his calls and emails to contacts within the county’s environmental agency have gone unanswered.

Check it out: Wheaton Patch has created a page where you can see all of our Costco gas station coverage in reverse chronological order.

Unable to afford to hire more health experts to examine the particulars of its case, KHCA has been meeting and corresponding with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Angelo Bianca, the deputy director of the Air and Radiation Management Administration in the MDE, wrote a letter last week as a follow-up to a meeting in June about the Costco gas station.

In the letter, Bianca states that although the gasoline station industry has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, there has been no accompanying change in the state regulatory approach. But the risks are real. He adds that because it is difficult to quantify these risks, particularly the cumulative effects of pollution in a specific area, “the more distance that can be placed between a source and residences and community gathering places is certainly beneficial to minimizing risk.”

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But no matter what state and federal authorities say, ultimately the issue lies with local government. If the County Council does not pass ZTA 12-07, Costco’s special exception application will proceed to the Board of Appeals.

Councilmember Marc Elrich, , remains a staunch supporter. At a news conference on Monday, he emphasized the importance of giving greater priority to public health rather than following the correct process when it comes to changing regulations. T as unfairly targeting Costco and usurping the role of the Board of the Appeals.

At last week’s PHED meeting, Councilmember George Leventhal questioned whether a private swim club merited consideration under the ZTA’s proposed language.

“We are the residents of this county,” Kensington Heights resident Mark Meszaros said in response at the Monday news conference. “We’re not some high-end, exclusive club.”

Danila Sheveiko July 17, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Dave, if you have never been to a Costco gas station, please check out the uploaded images above. Long lines of idling vehicles are a normal site at Costco gas stations. This will be by far the busiest fueling operation in the entire County, with up to six (6) tanker truck refuels daily.
Timothy July 17, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Did everybody notice how quickly we went from "the school is inside the limit" to "it doesn't really matter if the school is inside the limit"? The ONLY obstacle imposed bythe ZTA would be based on the Swim Club. The school is outside the limit and the ZTA doesn't apply to the houses at all. Let's be clear about the facts, please.
MocoLoco July 18, 2012 at 07:30 PM
MK--I believe that all diesel is now ULSD. Not sure it has to be marked as such, given that there's no alternative. (unless you're filling up your locomotive.) Signed, Mocolotive
MocoLoco July 18, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Who said "hundreds of cars"?
Kathleen Michels July 21, 2012 at 04:03 AM
As the state MDE notes- The main problem here is that regulations have not caught up with a growing body of research and monster business plans. The research on the risks of exposure to the particulates in car exhaust for damage to brain, heart, lungs , blood vessels is piling up. the state MDE said among other things “the more distance that can be placed between a source and residences and community gathering places is certainly beneficial to minimizing risk.” Because no business has proposed to site a mega gas station close to a residential community before, as the state MDE notes,there are no relevant regulations although clearly there need to be. It is a loophole Costco is planning on driving many fueling trucks through, while people suffer. And when the loophole is closed Costco will be grandfathered in and contine to pollute the air and health of children and adults

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