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Planning Board to Review Wheaton Costco Gas Station Thursday

Costco responds to negative report from the Montgomery County Planning Department.

The Montgomery County Planning Board is set to consider Costco's special exception case for a 16-pump gas station in Wheaton on Thursday.

The proposed gas station would be located at Westfield Wheaton, where the Costco store is scheduled to open April 10.

The board will discuss the special exception case during its afternoon session at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring on Feb. 28.

For more background on the Costco gas station, read the topics page on Wheaton Patch.

Costco faces an unfavorable review from the Montgomery County Planning Department staff. The report, released earlier this month, states that Costco's "analyses and assertion of no adverse health impacts is based on insufficient information, and may have understated the exposure of the adjacent population to some of the toxics."

Costco "has failed to meet the burden of proof to demonstrate that the proposed use will not adversely impact the health of the residents, and visitors within the neighborhood as required," planning staff wrote in the report. (Read the full report here.)

Erich Brann, director of real estate development for Costco, responded to the report with this written statement:

“Staff agreed that we met every single one of the planning requirements.  They also agreed that our modeling based on EPA standards puts the gas station well below levels that are considered health risks. And, in addition to being in compliance with EPA guidelines, our modeling shows we would be well under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) screening levels, which are among the most stringent in the nation. Yet somehow staff doesn’t think this is good enough, instead wanting us to meet some higher standard, one that they fail to define.  It’s impossible to meet a standard that does not exist. The findings of our comprehensive and site-specific air quality, odor and noise study found there to be no significant health, environmental or noise concerns from our proposed gas station.  We stand behind the findings of our study.”

Costco's application is 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. 

Want more news about Costco and the Costco gas station? Sign up for the Wheaton Patch newsletter. 

Joe Galvagna February 28, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Hey people who did not know Costco would have a gas station before recruiting them to build in Wheaton DA. Why don't we just pay Costco all their expended for building and all their research what ever and use the building as a day labor office or for giving out some more free stuff to county residences. Or maybe an English learning school or immigration free pass office. Maybe a building where homeless veterans can live now that is a great idea. We do not need Costco just tell them no thanks we will do fine with out you, your employment oppertunities, emprovements to plaza, increased revenue to county. Yea go home Costco. Montgomery Co does not need your business.
Commentous February 28, 2013 at 02:30 PM
I am not a scientist, so I admittedly may be missing something, but my mind has changed on this specific issue of the Stephen Knolls School. That does not mean that I am for the gas station. The other points made here are significant issues; I think the real concern is the residences close to the station. My reasons for not finding the Stephen Knolls School concerns as significant as the concerns of residents close to the proposed station: The Stephen Knolls School appears to be considerably closer to the constant Georgia Avenue traffic than to the gas station, which will be about 3 football fields away. The County has already decided that this school can deal with rush hour Georgia Avenue traffic. In addition, the peak hours for the gas station will be when children are not at the school--weekends especially--so idling is not likely to be a big problem during elementary school hours. I don't see how a gas station at non-peak hours three football fields away is a major concern. Even the graph (in the graphics supplied by the Stop Costco Gas Coalition) shows almost no health risk. The graph is for a much smaller station, but the risk is so low at 500 feet that there's no information provided for risks beyond this distance. The proposed station would be >800 feet away. There are good reasons to try to keep the Costco gas station out of the mall, but if these kids need better air quality, the Stephen Knolls School needs to be moved away from Georgia Avenue.
kjzone February 28, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Montgomery County wanted Costco in Wheaton, they even gave them 4 Million dollars to move there. Costco made it clear to the County that the gas station was part of the deal. Now Montgomery County is trying to back out of part of the deal. If emissions from idling vehicles are within Federal standards, the air around the station would be legally safe. kjzone (double PhD) in Physics and Engineering
The Big Egg February 28, 2013 at 03:58 PM
With your double PhD, you may have been blinded to the idea that the standard for getting a special exception is *not* whether idling vehicles exceed federal standards. The applicant must show by a preponderance of the evidence several things, including that the proposed use would be in harmony with the general character of the neighborhood, would not cause objectionable noise, fumes, would not adversely affect health, safety, general welfare. AND, for gas stations, the county must find that a need esists for the proposed use to serve the population in the general neighborhood, considering the present availability of identical or similar uses to the neighborhood. Sure, you are correct that Costco tried to get legislation passed that would have short-circuited this process, but it failed. Now, it is proceeding the through the special exception process. They will have a fair chance to make their case. However, as their latest filing with the Planning Board shows (by repeating your argument about federal emissions standards), they are failing to address this on the merits and trying instead to fudge things.
steve February 28, 2013 at 06:52 PM
costco is not in the business of destroying the environment. Im sure they could could build a wall big enough to eliminate any noise, sights or pollution. This is about money, job creation, putting wheaton on the map and increasing tax revenue. All the people who are opposed don't mind paying more in taxes and aren't worried about anybody working but themselves. This is a modern gas station no repairs, no wrecks in the parking lots, no abandoned cars. Fill up and go

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