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Costco Presses Its Case for Gas Station at New Wheaton Store

The Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to review Costco's special exception application for the controversial gas station on Feb. 28.

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.

Strauchan February 17, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Master plans and zoning regs are created specifically for the purpose of defining where uses should be located. Both allow for a gas station at the mall. The mall is the ideal location for this gas station and is the most environmentally friendly location. It is one of the top 3 or 4 destination locations in the county. Doesn't it make sense to put a major gas station dead center where the most cars would be going to anyway? And even better, on a site hidden from street view.
Thomas Paine February 17, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Right on Strauchan! You are a voice of common sense in a wilderness of closed-minded unthinking NIMBY lemmings.
Danila Sheveiko February 21, 2013 at 04:40 AM
Dear Strauchan, where are you getting your numbers about 150 cars at peak on weekends? This is very interesting information which contradicts both Costco and the Stop Costco Gas Coalition estimates... I am sure Patch readers would love to hear your explanation. Thank you in advance.
Strauchan February 21, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Danilla, My mistake. I overstated by 100% as per your own comment. Thank you for the correction. Re: Wheaton Patch Wheaton Costco Gas Station Hearing Scheduled for March. Danila Sheveiko 11:43 am on Friday, December 7, 2012 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? So we're talking 75 cars (at peak times) idling in a 6,000 car parking lot. Is that really a reason to deny the station? I read that the County Council has recommended against the station due to insufficient evidence being presented by Costco regarding health hazards. Personally I support this and appreciate the need for caution and safety. That said, I view the local opponents (especially you) as being totally biased against the station, and I question the legitimacy of the arguments presented by both sides. I have observed your arguments jump all over the map in the desperate attempt to block this station. continued
Strauchan February 21, 2013 at 03:36 PM
By all means, let's make sure Costco implements all of the reasonable safety features that need to be implemented to ensure the safety and health of the surrounding community. But when that point is reached, Costco should be allowed to move forward with the station. The "Not In My Backyard" argument is unreasonable, especially when you willingly chose to locate your backyard next to a 50 year old plus major regional shopping mall with a 6,000 car parking lot that is and has always been zoned to allow gas stations.

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