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WHAT HAVE FOREST BUFFER CONSERVATION & WATERSHED PROTECTION GOT TO DO WITH A MEGA GAS STATION?

Costco/Westfield are messing with Wheaton's Green Forest Buffer and the watershed by which groundwater reaches the Chesapeake Bay.

WHAT HAVE FOREST BUFFER CONSERVATION & WATERSHED PROTECTION GOT TO DO WITH A MEGA GAS STATION?

 

Plenty!  As part of its struggle to block Costco's request for Special Exception to build a mega gas station in Westfield Wheaton Mall, the Stop Costco Gas Coalition is calling attention to the fact that Costco has not filed a Forest Conservation Plan, claiming an exemption that SCGC finds invalid (www.stopcostcogas.org).

 

Wheaton's Green Forested Buffer, a portion of which is owned by Westfield Group, is a thin 10-acre strip of woods that protects Kensington Heights residents from the air, noise, and light pollution generated by Wheaton Mall.  The largest collection of trees in the entire Wheaton Sector Plan area, this forested buffer conveys stormwater from the Mall into Sligo, Silver and Rock Creeks.  Westfield recently sold half the woods for upzoned transit-oriented residential development, and pierced the heart of remaining forest with bulldozers to construct an outfall that dumps stormwater from the Costco project into Silver Creek.  This was done without a Forest Conservation Plan, in stark contrast to the spirit and letter of the Wheaton Sector Plan, as approved in 2011, to mandate additional protection and special status to Wheaton's green forested buffer.

 

Now Costco also wants to build a gas station, the busiest in Montgomery County, right above the headwaters of Silver Creek and next to single-family residences, and plans to do more work in the forested buffer with a Forest Conservation Exemption that is inaccurate and invalid.  According to the SCGC, if Westfield & Costco are allowed to proceed, one of the results will be further damage to our dwindling forest buffer and further degradation of the groundwater that drains, via our regional watershed, into the Chesapeake Bay.  The SCGC is urging concerned citizens to contact the Planning Board about this environmental injustice.

 

For more information, read here and here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Esther French (Editor) February 06, 2013 at 05:41 PM
As a point of clarification, "Webmaster" is the user name for a Patch reader--not the Patch webmaster.
Danila Sheveiko February 07, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Wheaton forested green buffer is also one of the last remaining ecological corridors connecting Sligo and Rock Creek park systems, so expect more wildlife roadkill if it is destroyed.
Linda Schade February 07, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Is the Planning Board the government agency responsible for requiring a Forest Conservation Plan and enforcing the lack of a conservation exemption? If so, it appears that they have failed in their duties - or am I missing something?
Ktown mom February 07, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Wow, I knew that the proposed gas station was goong to negatively affect the air and traffic in the area. I didn't realize it was going to hurt the water too. Costco, here is another great reason to move that station! Next time move it away from Stephen Knolls public school for disabled kids!
Ed Murtagh February 07, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Nice website! That was pretty slick of Costco to first get an exemption for the store and then get the huge gas station added to the plan after the exemption for the store was issued. Too bad the Planning Board went along with it. Good luck on your efforts. The last thing we need in Wheaton is less forested green areas.
wkc torrance February 07, 2013 at 02:53 AM
First a gas station the size of a large truck stop, now no trees? This store is next to a school for severely handicapped kids, and a very busy neighborhood pool. Plus there are many families with small kids who live here. Costco, where is your corporate responsibility?
Richard Rice February 07, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Sounds to me from what I see and hear that Costco has no Corporate responsibility for our environment or our children!!! Wake up and let's do the responsible thing! NO GAS STATION.
Danila Sheveiko February 07, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Richard, Costco's Code of Ethics used to say "Exceed ecological requirements in every community we do business." When the gas station battle started over three years ago, we mentioned it to them. Since then, instead of addressing the issues, Costco simply removed this sentence from the Code.
Interrobang February 07, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Thanks for the clarification -- it seems like an odd name to choose.
Richard Rice February 07, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Danila, I appreciate your comment. Sounds to me like Costco needs a good swift kick somewhere, besides their bottom line!!!
Homewood resident February 09, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Those photos of the bulldozer are misleading -- they are not where Coscto is, but further towards Veirs Mill Road, where the new development is going in, south of the fitness center. You need to be more accurate in your labeling. Who is the "villan" here? The Wheaton green buffer was severely compromised in the 1990s, when a series of cul-de-sac developments was put in on the north side of McComas Ave. Costco has nothing to do with that.
Danila Sheveiko February 10, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Dear Homewood resident - the photos are from Westfield property where Costco dumps its stormwater, so I don't know what Viers Mill Road development you are talking about. The labeling is accurate, the villain is clear for all to see.
wkc torrance February 10, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Yesterday i drove past where this bulldozer. It is next to the pool that families use all summer. It is next to homes where families with small children live, and it is also going to degrade the greenspace meant to protect the established Kensington neighborhood from run-off and fumes.
Homewood resident February 12, 2013 at 01:53 PM
The bulldozer is gone. The facility identified in the first photo actually improves stormwater management; it does not make it worse. The runoff is from a parking lot that has been there for over 35 years; Costco has nothing to do with that. Regardless of whether the gas station is built, there will be severe runoff from the parking lot.
Danila Sheveiko February 12, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Dear Homewood resident - I am glad you are no longer accusing us of doctoring the photos. The facility you are talking about does indeed improve stormwater management, but marginally and temporarily, instead of engineering a more permanent solution called a Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance that would have worked better over time, instead of worse, while also creating riperian wildlife habitat and increasing adjacent property values. Costco has everything to with this, as it has been reported they have a lease on the parking lot you are talking about for 60 years. That's several generations of Wheaton residents whose environmental quality of life will not improve because of Costco's myopic obstinance.
Homewood resident February 12, 2013 at 06:12 PM
If Costco were to pack up and leave tomorrow, would that change anything? That parking lot has been there since 1960, when Wheaton Plaza was created out of a farm.
Webmaster February 12, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Right now Costco gas is not there. If it gets to be there then the parking lot will have all the additional stuff that comes out of cars that are idling and/or fueling, the tankers that fill up the gas stoarge tanks, etc. That additional stuff will lie on the ground until rain washes it away. Away means either downhill into the small strip of Forest Buffer (and the stream bed) or into the shoddy stormwater management system that Westfield/Costco have constructed and which will also dump into the stream bed. All of the stuff then goes, via the watershed, to the Chesapeake Bay. Do we want that change?
GreenNeighbor February 18, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Dear HR, Villan? really? I'll trust Mr. Sheveiko on this matter and ask you to please look at what is happening here. Given the state of the forest buffer (compromised) it is even more important to protect what is left.
Homewood resident February 18, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Dear GreenNeighbor -- After the original post by Webmaster I walked over to the parking lot. Here is what I found: (1) The disturbed are in the first photo has been landscaped and turned into a stormwater management facility, which will actually IMPROVE water quality from what was there for the past 25+ years. Some mature trees were removed, yes. But in general the area looks pretty decent and the green buffer remains. There are no "bulldozers" or other earth moving equipment parked there or near that area. (2) At the far east end of the green buffer, construction where the Baptist church used to be has completely destroyed whatever green buffer there was. (Note that this is as far from Costco as you can get.) This area drains directly into the Wheaton Branch of Sligo Creek. There is earthmoving equipment parked here. So to answer your question: yes I have looked at what is happening here. Mr. Sheveiko apparently has not, as he doesn't know what Veirs Mill development I am talking about.
Danila Sheveiko February 19, 2013 at 04:28 AM
Dear Homewood resident: The construction project you mention on the site of the former Wheaton First Baptist Church is located at 10914 Georgia Avenue - not on Viers Mill, as you continue to insist, so please check your facts before casting aspersions. Similarly, your continued insistence that we are doctoring the photos does not withstand scrutiny. On the other hand, I challenge you to show the good people reading this thread at least one photo with at least one item of landscaping you claim Westfield and Costco installed to remediate the damage caused in the Wheaton forested green buffer. If you will not produce a photo in response to my challenge, your silence on the matter will speak volumes.
Homewood resident February 19, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Never said "doctoring." Sorry. Misleading, yes. Doctoring, no.
Danila Sheveiko February 21, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Dear Homewood resident: Our photos are misleading? How so? Also, Patch readers are still waiting for your photos to back up your claims of Costco/Westfield landscaping in the buffer.
Kathy March 01, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Kensington wake up....Not only is this area buffer at risk but has anyone seen all the tree trucks crucifing the trees around Kensington? They are destroying , cutting down trees all over Kensington. this is i a huge worry also.
Homewood resident March 05, 2013 at 02:54 AM
I uploaded a photo of the buffer -- one tree deep. from that tree to Veirs Mil Road the buffer is gone completely.

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