Days before Costco's scheduled community open house, where the major retailer hopes to convince local residents to support its plans for a 16-pump gas station in Wheaton, Montgomery County Planning Department staff issued a recommendation against the gas station.
The proposed gas station would be located at Westfield Wheaton, where the Costco store is scheduled to open April 10.
In its report, planning department staff conclude that Costco'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."
For the full report, see the Planning Department website or the PDF attached to this article.
Costco "has failed to meet the burden of proof to demonstrate that the proposed use will not adversely impact the health of the residents, and visitors within the neighborhood as required," planning staff wrote.
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The county Planning Board is scheduled to review Costco's special exception application on Feb. 28 and make a recommendation to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.
See the Planning Board agenda for more information about how to participate in the meeting.
Costco's application is scheduled to come before a hearing examiner on March 11, 15, 18, and 22 at 9:30 a.m. in the Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, Second Floor Davidson Memorial Hearing Room, at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The hearing examiner will submit a recommendation to the Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, which will make the final decision.
For more background on the Costco gas station, read the topics page on Wheaton Patch.
The planning department staff report noted the combination of the Costco gas station's size (it will dispense an estimated 12 million gallons per year), its location along a private road ringing the mall property and the anticipated queuing of cars as "cause for concern."
Costco's open house is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Newport Mill Middle School, 11311 Newport Mill Road, in Kensington. Gas station opponents have objected to the format, saying they would have rather had a town hall-style meeting where questions and answers could be heard by all in attendance.
The Stop Costco Gas Coalition continues to oppose the gas station plans, citing health and environmental concerns, particularly because the gas station would be near the Stephen Knolls School for children with special needs. The coalition has uploaded Costco's special exception filings to its website, along with the group's responses and letters in opposition.
Will you be going to the Wednesday open house? What do you think of the Planning Department staff's negative report? Tell us in the comments.