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Zoning Text Amendment Would Affect Costco Gas Station

Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich is the lead sponsor.

A new zoning text amendment that would affect the special exceptions process for gas stations in Montgomery County was introduced at Tuesday’s county council session.

The zoning text amendment would apply to gas stations that process more than 3.6 million gallons of fuel per year. The proposed gas station at the Wheaton Costco would process an anticipated 12 million gallons of fuel per year.

Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin and Nancy Navarro are sponsoring ZTA 12-07. (Update: Councilmember Craig Rice has also been added as a co-sponsor.) A public hearing will be scheduled for June 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The ZTA’s language would direct the Board of Appeals to examine if the gas station would negatively affect the neighborhood regarding noise, fumes, and traffic.

In addition, the ZTA would require the gas station to be located “at least 1,000 feet from any public or private school, or any park, playground, or hospital, or other public use, or any use categorized as a cultural, entertainment and recreation use.”

The proposed Costco gas station would be located 300 feet from the .

AntonFisher April 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I hope this new zoning amendment will also prevent the Costco gas station from being located in place of the abandoned car dealership at the corner of Veirs Mill Rd. and Reedie Dr. Locating the gas station there will kill the entire downtown Wheaton area and it will be less than 1000 ft from the proposed Town Square, which qualifies as a park.
Mike Smith April 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Why hasn't Hans Riemer come out in support of the ZTA?
ED April 17, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I support this ZTA and believe it will protect residents throughout the County. I commend Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice for introducing and co-sponsoring this zoning text amendment.
April Gassler April 18, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Not that you can trust a word from Costco, but they have repeatedly said that the car dealership site is unsuitable for a gas station due to its size and steep grade. Nevertheless, I agree that with the small green space currently next to Lot 13 and the proposal to put a new Town Square there, the ZTA (if passed) should prevent putting a Costco (or anybody else's high volume) gas station on the former car dealership site.
April Gassler April 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I can only surmise that it is because he wants to play both sides of the fence. He wants to tell the community that he opposes the gas station without actually DOING anything about it. That way he won't upset Costco and other big business enterprises in the county and they'll contribute to his re-election campaign. He might also think the community isn't smart enough to figure out that his words mean nothing without action to back them up.
April Gassler April 18, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Here, here, ED! Thanks to the 4 County Council Members who stood up to protect the residents of Montgomery County and sensitive land uses from the negative impacts that would be brought by adjacent high volume gas stations and their idiling cars waiting to fill up.
Danila Sheveiko April 18, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Costco is not the only retailer that moved into gasoline sales - Wal-Mart and others have followed suit. As big-box retailers are entering more dense, urban areas, gas stations could be sprouting in places they have never been before. I am glad that we have four Councilmembers that understand that.
Henriot St. Gerard April 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Smart move on making this amendment focused on stations near public facilities cause the rule wont fly if it pertained to residential units. If the public pool facility near Wheaton Mall wasnt there, I am not sure there would be too much people could do to protest the location of the gas station.
ED April 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
All the more reason to push for the Town Square to be built asap. I don't think this ZTA applies to "proposed parks", although it may apply to parks/Town Square's allocated for in an approved budget.
ED April 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Luckily, the "Special Exception" process, which currently governs certain uses including gas stations and accessory apartments, still allows residents to voice their opinions in front of a judge. Watch out, though. If planners have their way, multiple accessory apartments will be allowed in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County with no avenue of protest for the residents.
AntonFisher April 18, 2012 at 06:17 PM
ED, There are already green space and picnic tables all around. I think the condition as it is should qualify regardless if the Town-square is built or just proposed..
ED April 18, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Anton - you're right, the current green space and picnic tables should be enough to prevent a mega-gas station at the Mall car dealership site if this ZTA passes. Hopefully, it will.
TaL April 19, 2012 at 03:13 AM
ED- You mean like all the illegal ones that the county tolerates in Wheaton already? Ive called in Code on a number in my neighborhood and all they can do is say "everyone in the house claims to be related so we cant act"
Mr CDT2 April 19, 2012 at 02:13 PM
So, it's OK to have First State gas next to the low income homes in Wheaton, but not to put a gas station close to homes in Kensington. You want the cheap goods at Costco, but will get your gas and leave your exhaust in Wheaton. Seems like a case of environmental injustice. Put all the dirty stuff by the lower income residents.
Danila Sheveiko April 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Dear Dan: this is nothing like Free State. The Costco gas station will be by far the busiest retail fueling operation in Montgomery County. Do you know of another gas station around here with up to 75 vehicles idling in queue at once with wait times of 30 minutes during peak hours? Do tell. I do, however, agree with your environmental justice point. Costco tried to get into four different places in the County, including the proposed Walmart Aspen Hill site, but the communities did not want them. Alas, this is Wheaton, and here we are, sticking a big-box store with a ginormous gas station, next to a metro in a transit-oriented urban arts & entertainment district using taxpayer funds!
Commentous April 19, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Dan and Danila--My focus is the "redevelopment" more than the gas station issue. Nevertheless, I see a difference in a humongous filling station and a busy station a fraction of the size. I'm not sure we need legislation for every decision, as this could certainly be construed as a nuisance, but that's a question for another day. Though I don't support the station, I support Costco coming to Wheaton. I do not believe Westfield Wheaton would be on the upswing if there hadn't been the expectation of Costco by other businesses who came into a mall that was decidedly not on the upswing. Perhaps community distaste dissuaded Costco in some places, but Bruce Lee of LDG gave different reasons on the "just up the pike" blog for Costco not coming to Aspen Hill specifically: "[S]everal years ago we did negotiate with Costco for the BAE/Vitro site. We got very close to a final deal and three things happened. 1) The site was too small for what Costco needed. 2) We did not want another gas station added to Aspen Hill. 3) The Wheaton location suddenly presented itself as an alternative location. We lost out which happens in our business." Finally, I think we all hope that value can be gained from our A&E designation. We've had that designation for about 6 of its 10 years so far and have not been able to leverage it much (http://wheaton-md.patch.com/articles/reevaluating-wheaton-s-artistic-designation-to-boost-economy). There's still some time fortunately.
ED April 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Tal - you're right, the law is written so that unrelated people can not live there, so everyone in the house claims they are related. I have the same problem in my neighborhood. That's the problem with the law. To me, the law should be changed rather than the planners making these "accessory apartments' allowed "by-right" (legal). If they can't control the illegal ones, how in the world are they going to control the "legal" ones? Personally, I did not spend the money I spent to buy a single-family home in Montgomery County to have the County change the law so that every single-family neighborhood is now a multi-family neighborhood.
Danila Sheveiko April 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Dear Commentous: I agree with you about redevelopment. I also agree we should work together with Westfield in making Wheaton a better place. However, I don't think we should be spending millions of taxpayer cash to subsidize Westfield Wheaton's antiquated, un-competitive business model that does not mesh with the CBD and requires constant cash infusions from the taxpayer. Ed Murtagh said the other month - if you want to exacerbate a problem, then subsidize it. Westfield has some forward-thinking retail properties, but they will keep Wheaton Plaza a nexus of big-box stores as long as we pay them to. As to your Aspen Hill comment, our site is also too small for what Costco needs as well, with people trying to walk to the metro and nighttime loading docks right next to residences. And we certainly don't want the gas station. So what's the difference?! LDG vs Westfield. I guess we now know which one has a stronger lobby.
MJ April 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I would just like to say.. All you complaining about Costco and can trust what they say, Don't know enough about Costco.. I would say you do a little more research on how that company operates.. It's doesn't operate like shady Walmart... Secondly Costco would employee 200 plus Jobs, so be happy.. with the out of job rate I would think you would want this... Oh and their pay/benefits are above the average... City Taxes.... again helping the city..... Again do more research and weight out the Pros and the Cons. Maybe just maybe if your paying to much for gas bringing a Costco Gas station might just lower price's for all.
Danila Sheveiko April 26, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Dear MJ: As someone who touts "research", your assertions are just plain incorrect, factually. I am not out here to bash Costco, but if you actually do a Google search on their corporate track record, a very different picture emerges. Are you sure you are not a Costco PR person? Also, if they will create some many jobs, why was the jobs clause deleted from the County $4 million grant? Why do all the small and medium business receiving taxpayer assistance have to report on job creation, but Westfield and Costco get to skate? Finally, what "city" taxes are you talking about?!

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