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.