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Council Votes to Restrict 'Mega' Gas Stations in Montgomery County

But a last-minute change means a proposed Costco gas station at Westfield Wheaton Mall is still in limbo.

All nine Montgomery County council members voted Tuesday afternoon to establish a 300-foot buffer between large gas stations in the county and community spaces such as parks, schools and pools.

But the vote left unclear what was on everyone's minds: whether Costco would be able to build its proposed gas station at Westfield Wheaton.

Councilmember Marc Elrich, the lead sponsor of Zoning Text Amendment 12-07, made a key last-minute change to the bill, reducing the buffer zone from 1,000 feet to 300 feet, in order to gain the necessary votes for passage.

"They would have beat me yesterday, 5-4," Elrich said afterward.

The ZTA applies to gas stations that dispense more than 3.6 million gallons per year. Costco, which has been at the center of the controversy surrounding ZTA 12-07, has plans to build a gas station at that is projected to dispense 12 million gallons per year.

All gas stations in Montgomery County must go through a special exception process.

It is not clear whether Costco's proposed gas station is located within this 300-foot buffer zone from the in Kensington Heights, because the 300 feet will be measured from the edge of the special exception zone, whereas the original 1,000-foot buffer would have been measured in a direct line from the gas pumps.

Costco representatives say they plan to measure the new distance and re-submit their special exception packet.

Costco's special exception process came to a halt after , and the county's Board of Appeals decided to await the outcome of the council vote.

Check it out: Wheaton Patch has created a page where you can see all  our Costco gas station coverage in reverse chronological order.

AntonFisher July 25, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Why did not the County Council hire someone to do a study regarding the gas station in the same manner they hired a person to do a study that resulted in killing Wheaton Redevelopment?
Commentous July 25, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Anton--The person who came up with the "better" plan works for the Council. He came up with reasons after the Council decided that (1) BF Saul would receive too much money and/or (2) no commercial businesses would come to Wheaton even if there was new office space available and/or (3) it was extremely important to protect current small businesses in the Triangle from higher costs, even if that would be a product of positive redevelopment. No one says (3) out loud anymore, but statements prior to the divisive decision made clear that it was a big concern to certain Councilmembers, including those who don't live near Wheaton (much like many of the business owners themselves). For that matter, it appears that groups focused on maintaining lower business rents have some Councilmembers' ears. Remember the recently proposed "Wheaton Revitalization Implementation Working Group"? That wording meshes closely with the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton's "Small Business Pledge" (http://astrongerwheaton.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/wheaton-redevelopment-small-business-written-pledge-5-18-12.pdf): "Create a Wheaton Redevelopment Implementation Committee in part composed by members of the Coalition to regularly review and advise on the implementation of the ... redevelopment project." My concern is not the Coalition. It's certain Councilmembers' willingness to hear from them while not listening to Wheaton's residents.
Candace Clagett July 28, 2012 at 03:32 PM
all these people will be lined up to by gas when Costco opens in Wheaton.
Danila Sheveiko July 29, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Dear Candace: "Once you know something, you can't unknow it." - Councilmember Marc Elrich, May, 2012. Kensington Heights has at least 250 single-family residences and about 1,000 people within 1,000 feet of the gas station as proposed. Please check out the graphics and images uploaded above - it will be by far the busiest retail fuel station in the entire County, and just the risk for cancer due to benzene could go up 40 or 60 fold for the nearest homes. What about other various volatile organic compounds, what about carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and ultra-fine patriculate matter? Nobody should be able to "uknown" these things. Respectfully.
David Becker September 13, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I drove by Costco's proposed gas stataion site and saw that the parcel of land is being landscaped and grass seed with hay has been laid down. Apparently, Costco is still planning on pursuing this as the site for it's gas station. If not, you'd think they'd be turning this space into parking; which the Costco is going to desperately need given the tight parking that already exists there.

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