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Costco's Mega Gas Station "Need Study" Tallies Potential Sales but Ignores Impacts on Wheaton

Costco says the potential to divert traffic from across the northern Metro Area to its mega station proves that Wheaton needs it.

Costco must prove that Wheaton needs a mega gas station at Wheaton Plaza to get Montgomery County to give it the special zoning exception required for construction.  To try to bolster its case, Costco paid an Annapolis firm for a Need Study. I attached a copy here.

Costco's sales potential is the sole criteria the study uses to gauge Wheaton's need for a mega station.  Montgomery County requires Costco to prove a need in the general Wheaton neighborhood, but the study uses the 15 square miles surrounding Wheaton Plaza as the principal market area (p. 2-1).

I wish I could tell you that there's more to Costco's Need Study than that, but it contains no deeper thought about the future of Wheaton.  Costco's sales opportunity morphs into Wheaton's needs and that's it according to Costco.  The study never considers the trade-off between more sales for Costco and Wheaton's loss of a metro accessible parcel that sits astride an important pedestrian pathway connecting neighborhoods, the Mall, and downtown Wheaton.

The study is illuminating for a moment (page 4-2, Exhibit 4-1) when it admits that Costco's corporate technique of measuring what Wheaton needs finds several types of retail that Wheaton needs more than a mega gas station.  My favorite is Foodservice and Drinking Places, the study finds an 8 percent larger need for those establishments than for the mega station.  More places like the Royal Mile Pub?  Exhibit 4-1 masks the findings a bit, if you want we can discuss them more in comments.

Costco says (p. 4-5) that Wheaton needs to be a fuel depot for traffic from "most of Montgomery County, parts of adjacent counties and the District of Columbia."  I don't believe Montgomery County will let that happen and I hope in the future we can discuss here in Patch ways the Wheaton community can present its vision of Wheaton's needs to our County decision makers.

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.

ED January 07, 2013 at 09:20 PM
If that is true, it is sad, but not unheard of and is one tactic that developer's use - divide and conquer. It is sad because, if this mega-gas station is allowed in that location, it opens the door to these mega-gas stations on private roads and in close proximity to homes almost anywhere in the County.
L.J. January 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM
I think that posting up comment with the intent to further divide the community is unfair. Do not make accusations without sound proof because it just makes your comments seem malicious. Dealing with people, a neighborhood, attorneys, and a huge corporation such as Costco is a big undertaking. Would you be able to handle that D.B.? You can't always make everyone happy you just have to try your best at doing what is right. The Kensington Heights President is a educated Lawyer who knows what he is doing and what is best for the community. The only behind the scenes meetings have been disenfranchised Kensington Heights Association members who are trying to vote him out and form their own group. Does this seem productive to you? This makes Kensington Heights look bad and unorganized and that is not what they need at this time. This is the time to put petty egos aside and work together and work hard against Costco. Let's look at the bigger picture people!! Like ED said, if Costco wins this can happen anywhere in the country. Please stop the petty arguing amongst yourselves and get to work!!!
D.B. January 08, 2013 at 05:18 PM
I'm not posting to divide the community. I'm posting a fact that a lot of people don't know about. You make the assumption that, because the Kensington Heights President is an educated Lawyer (like many, many other citizens in Kensington Heights) he is doing what is best for the community. I just believe that he should be more up front with the people he represents. This is a democratically run organization, not an oligarchy.
L.J. January 08, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Are you aware that the same accusations were thrown around about the "dismissed" members? The same things were said about the previous president as well. They are unfounded and false on all accounts. These accusations are dangerous and not fact whatsoever just hearsay. I would think twice before saying such things. Perhaps your time and energy can be used to help find a solution to stop the gas station instead of attacking your neighbors.
Andrea January 15, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Getting back to the issue of need, I am in agreement that Costco may want the gas station and others may want the cheap gas but I do not consider want and need to be the same thing. Costco is only concerned about profits and increasing visitors to the store. The fact that they removed their ethnics statement about being a good neighbor and exceeding environmental requirements from their website is enough proof that Costco has NO interest in playing fair. I canceled my membership sometime ago and urge everyone else to do the same.

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