Costco sent out fliers this week inviting community members to attend an open house where it will make its case for a controversial 16-pump gas station at its warehouse store that is yet to open in Wheaton.
The open house is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Feb. 20 at Newport Mill Middle School, 11311 Newport Mill Road, Kensington.
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According to the fliers, the open house will address questions about Costco's special exception application to place a gas station at Westfield Wheaton, in the parking lot between the mall and the Kensington Heights neighborhood.
The fliers show what Costco says are extreme measures for protecting the community from car fumes and noise, including a large wall and a barrier of trees. (See accompanying PDFs of flier.)
The Stop Costco Gas Coalition, which includes Kensington Heights residents, continues to oppose the gas station plans, citing health and environmental concerns. The coalition has uploaded Costco's special exception filings to its website, along with the group's responses and letters in opposition.
In addition to sending the fliers, Costco emailed its members earlier this week and asked them to support the gas station by sending emails to the Montgomery County Planning Board and staff.
The Planning Board is scheduled to review the special exception application on Feb. 28 and make a recommendation to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.
Costco's application is then 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 then submit a recommendation to the Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, which will make the final decision.
The store is set to open April 12.
This isn't Costco's first time through the special exception process; its previous application also encountered resistance. When the Montgomery County Council approved a zoning text amendment in 2012 regarding gas stations, Costco was unable to go through with its original plans for constructing a gas station on the proposed site because of its proximity to a neighborhood pool.
Costco responded by submitting a new application that shifted the gas station site east--away from the pool, but closer to the Stephen Knolls School for special needs students.
For more background on the Costco gas station, read the topics page on Wheaton Patch.