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Wheaton Costco Gas Station Hearing Scheduled for March

The Stop Costco Gas Coalition is concerned that the special exception hearing will be too soon for the group to present a strong response to Costco's application.

Opponents of the proposed Costco gas station at Westfield Wheaton have written two letters to the Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, requesting a delay of the hearing for Costco's new special exception application.

The Board of Appeals has issued a notice that the hearing is scheduled for 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. (See PDF attached to this article.)

The Stop Costco Gas Coalition is worried that there will not be enough time to review Costco's special exception materials and express concerns to the Planning Department (which will review the special exception and give a report to the Board of Appeals) by a deadline of Jan. 15, 2013.

The coalition is requesting that the hearing not be scheduled earlier than June 2013.

The Montgomery County Council approved a zoning text amendment this summer that prevented Costco from constructing a gas station in the original proposed location because of its proximity to a neighborhood pool. But Costco has submitted a new application that shifts the gas station east.

The new proposed location would still border the Kensington Heights neighborhood and would be closer to the Stephen Knolls School for special needs students.

For background on the Costco gas station issue and Zoning Text Amendment 12-07, see Wheaton Patch's topic page.

The hearing notice and the two letters by the Stop Costco Gas Coalition have been attached to this article as PDFs.

Danila Sheveiko December 06, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Dear Joe, please provide your definition of progress. According to Wikipedia, progress is: "the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc."
Commentous December 06, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I can't say for sure, but the Patch seems to have indicated that there were construction issues that arose, and others commented that they had heard there were problems with the floor that need to be fixed before Costco is allowed to open.
TaL December 07, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Nicolle- My understanding is they ran into the same shoddy cement work as happened at the Silver Spring transit center.....they started loading the shelving and the floor cracked all over the place. Once they are sure that we wont all fall into the basement they should be opening
TaL December 07, 2012 at 12:42 AM
So let me get this straight....all the Kensington NIMBYS killed the first gas station placement, and as a result they now have a worse one? There is one word for that "Suckkas" In the end if you arent careful, COSTCO will buy out the pool, bulldoze the lot, and put the gas station there. This would make me smile.
TaL December 07, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Danila- "Quality of Life" The less I have to spend on gas (or goodies) means the more I can have of both. Which In my world equates to a higher quality of life.
Danila Sheveiko December 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Dear TaL, we all live in the same world and like to save on gas, but what about quality of air? Shouldn't that factor into your quality of life equation? After all, it is hard to enjoy the "goodies" if they come at the price of your health.
Donna R. Savage December 07, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Tal -- The operative word in your "quality of life" definition is: *I*. We can no longer afford to live in a world in which what *I* want trumps all else. Yes, *I* would like cheap gas. But *I* do not want it if the availability of cheap gas ala Costco seriously degrades *your* quality of life (which it would in this case) or threatens the health of *your* disabled child (which it would). Has life become that cut-throat in MoCo? Wow; how sad.
MocoLoco December 07, 2012 at 02:17 AM
TaL is just a troll. This is in Wheaton, not Kensington. There's already cheap gas in Kensington and Wheaton--Freestate and Econoway. And the new Costco proposal should be seen for what it is--a Hail Mary pass. Those don't work for the Redskins, and they won't work for Costco.
Commentous December 07, 2012 at 02:20 AM
The mall is in Wheaton, but the homeowners are in Kensington technically. I don't think this makes a difference on the substantive gas issue, though.
Commentous December 07, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Danila--Just to clarify, the Washington Business Journal article does take into account the tax credits: "The mall's redevelopment is expected to generate $458,000 per year in real estate and property taxes, in addition to $350,000 in impact fee revenues. But thanks to an Enterprise Zone Property Tax Credit that will yield an average $245,960 per year for the Westfield Group over the next decade, the county is not expected to recoup its $4 million contribution for nine years." Also, although some people would rather have had the mall razed, Westfield has attracted a fair number of nicer shops since Costco agreed to come. If the mall had disintegrated like some of the Wheaton strip malls (I think the one on Gerogia and Blueridge has lost a florist, jeweler, and Baskin-Robbins), we'd be in worse shape all around Wheaton.
Linda Schade December 07, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Does the special exception process take negative health impacts into account? What is the criteria for decision making for the special exception process?
Linda Schade December 07, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Joe I am a Kensington resident but relatively new to this issue. I sense an anger at 'Ktown people' but don't understand why. Is there some historic hatred between your town and Kensington or what is the story?
Joe Galvagna December 07, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Just the fact that we will get this large retail in wheaton is good for the economy. No matter how long it takes the county to recoupe the money it will and we will still have the Costco that is progress. Some people will fight aganist any and everything. Get on with life and worry about something important ie provide for your family.
TaL December 07, 2012 at 04:03 AM
MocoLoco- The people objecting prefer to refer to themselves as "Kensington" technically the sub-division is "Kensington Heights" and they are in the 20895 zip. I'd say they are in Wheaton, but the 200k difference in property values says they are not.
TaL December 07, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Donna & Danila- Ok, lets take the "I" out of it and put it to a vote of the mid-county residents... Cheap convenient gas on one side and Eco concerns on the other. You lose 2 or 3 to one would be my bet
Linda Schade December 07, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Joe I'm sure you would agree that for most people, providing for family includes protecting their health and caring whether they get exposed to high risk carcinogens. You may not be aware of the serious health consequences of living, sleeping and playing near even normal-sized gas stations. If not, you are not alone. There needs to be a greater effort getting that information out there but some progress has been made. For example, you might have seen the health warning stickers on each and every gas pumps in Maryland. Hopefully the special exception process takes human health into account in these siting decisions.
Linda Schade December 07, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Joe I don't mean to pick on you but its hard for me to understand your genuine concerns and priorities which seem to be masked by sarcasm. Is increasing county tax revenue important to you or not? I honestly can't tell. I guess my interest is I am trying to learn about the issue and the different views of my neighbors but its hard for me to really understand some of your points.
Dataslave December 07, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Ah! Wonderful to see you again crazy mucus, Now you're complaining in about a town you don't live in isn't that wonderful! In this case I all agree with you, But only for the children at stephen knolls Those poor kid have to deal with enough already without being gagged by fumes.
Commentous December 07, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If anyone can answer the following questions, it might help clarify the situation. I realize that many of these questions may be answered already, so if you could point me in the right direction/to the right document, I'd appreciate it: How far would the proposed gas station be from the school? What is the gas line expected to be like during weekday school hours versus weekends? When there are lines, where will they be located? Would they be closer to houses and the school than the station is? How will the volume of gas sales compare to the 12-pump Free State on Veirs Mill, or the combined 20 pumps at the Free State/Sunoco stations there, which are both very near people's homes? I don't think that the health of a significant number of people, especially children, should be sacrificed for a gas station. Thanks in advance for sharing any facts/analysis on these issues, including any analyses of health concerns specific to Costco's station (as opposed to any gas station being built near a residential community).
ED December 07, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Great questions, Commentous. I hope Danila has the answers for you. I have one question I'd like to add: Will the fire department weigh in on how they will respond if cars are backed up on the ring road and in the parking lots?
Danila Sheveiko December 07, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Dear Commentous, I uploaded some images above that should answer most of your questions. At 12,000,000 gallons in projected annual sales, this will be by far the busiest gas station in Mongtomery County. An average station pumps about 1.5 million, so this will be truly a MEGA operation.. Have you seen around here 75 vehicles idling in queue at any other gas station? Ever? More importantly, the point is that Costco's Special Exception application for this monstrosity is being unfairly fast tracked through the process without giving our community the time it needs to plow through the many hundreds of pages before the January 15th deadline. Do you support due process?
Danila Sheveiko December 07, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Commentous, thank you for catching my mistake, but the revenue figure in question remains the same - it will take the County nine years to recoup the $4 million. You then changed the subject from County revenues to Wheaton's greater good, but your premise in this new argument is tenuous at best - either $4 million for Costco or disintegration of the mall. Sounds unreasonable to me. Unlike the strip malls you mention disintegrating, Wheaton mall is owned by Westfield - the largest retail real estate property holder on Planet Earth.
Commentous December 07, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Thanks for the photo. Is that the current planned location-125' from the closest homes, 350' from the Kenmont pool, and 850' from Stephen Knolls School? I guess we don't know where the car lines would be exactly, which would be interesting too. I don't think many people are against due process (I'm not), though I'm not sure it's always a focus in our county.
Deb G. December 13, 2012 at 05:28 PM
As a Wheaton resident who lives just east of the mall, I'm not just concerned about the environmental impact. I'm even more concerned about the impact to traffic. The mall's ring road is already backed up during holidays and big shopping times, and I haven't heard a peep from Costco or Westfield about how they plan to deal with the anticipated increase in traffic. Add to that long lines of cars, and we could have some serious gridlock. I've been in favor of the Costco this whole time, but the gas station still seems unnecessary to me - there are lots and lots of gas stations around the area.
Strauchan January 07, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Danila, You are totally missing the purpose of tax incentives and enterprise zones. The idea is to spur neighborhood improvement by attracting businesses into those neighborhoods. They then bring in customers who attract new businesses, feed the existing businesses and create a more attractive neighborhood to live in. All of whom pay more taxes. Case in point would be Nationals Park. Why build it if all you are looking at is the tax revenue from the park itself? It would never pay for itself on those terms. But the end result is a massive revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods. On a different note, there are 6,500 parking spaces at Westfield Wheaton. At most there might be 50 cars at any one time waiting for Costco gas. I seriously doubt the fumes that they emit will make much of a difference given the thousands of cars that are already driving to and fro there.
Strauchan January 07, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Linda, That is all very true except for the fact that, except for the rare 85+ year old holdout, every homeowner in the affected area freely chose to locate their family next to a major regional shopping mall with parking for 6,500 cars. It sounds cold, but I feel it is the same with the school. If you are truly concerned about high risk carcinogens, why would you choose to raise your family/teach your children next to one of the highest concentrations of carcinogen emitting vehicles in the County? The Mall was there first by decades, and given the already existing huge volume of vehicles going there for other reasons, I view it as the perfect location for a major gas station. Overall we'll probably lower the emissions in the County due to the already existing convergence of vehicles there.
Strauchan January 07, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Deb, Your concern is the already existing high volume of traffic, but you have always been in favor of the Costco. Did it ever cross your mind that the volume of traffic will dramatically increase once Costco opens? There are lots and lots of places to buy all of the things that Costco sells - under your logic, why do we need Costco at all, much less Costco gas? It is all economics - cheap staples and cheap gas. If we are lucky, maybe some of the ugly gas stations on Connecticut Avenue will go out of business and be replaced with something more attractive.
Dick Wad January 16, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I'll be there to fight for Costco.
Dick Wad January 16, 2013 at 08:22 PM
I'll be there in full force fighting for Costco. They saved the mall and pretty much saved Wheaton from going down a rat hole. Our property values are going up as a result.
Joe Galvagna January 17, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Everyone of your points are great but have no solid proof. You are just guessing at what could happen. We need more business and employment in Wheaton/Kensington. As to the question of my residence I live in Kensington 20895 and have since 1969. I love our town but hate what it has become. We need progress not protests. Cisco is not the complete answer but it is a start. Now if we can just get the polititions to work on cleaning up the undeserable elements in Wheaton/ Kensington maybe we can take back our County. You know what element I mean. Montgomery Co in in the crapper because of all the PC and entitlements. Lets band together and protect, support our working American citizens. There is plenty for us to protest and fight for a gas station is not worth the fight. We are loosing our complete way of life our democracy wake up people. We must pick our battles that effect our whole lives. In the big scem of things Cosco and its gas station is small compaired to what is about to befall our whole country in the next four years. Our liberties are being taken away from us one by one and you people are protesting a gas station. The way things are going all of us might need this gas station for employment justvto pay all the taxes emposed on us. Really wake up people I know I an scared you should be as well. God help all of us.

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