Planning Department Staff Recommends Against Wheaton Costco Gas Station

Costco to hold a open house on Wednesday in Kensington. The Montgomery County Planning Board will review the case Feb. 28.

Days before Costco's scheduled community open house, where the major retailer hopes to convince local residents to support its plans for a 16-pump gas station in Wheaton, Montgomery County Planning Department staff issued a recommendation against the gas station.

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

In its report, planning department staff conclude 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."

For the full report, see the Planning Department website or the PDF attached to this article.

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.

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The county Planning Board is scheduled to review Costco's special exception application on Feb. 28 and make a recommendation to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.

See the Planning Board agenda for more information about how to participate in the meeting.

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. The hearing examiner will submit a recommendation to the Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, which will make the final decision.

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

The planning department staff report noted the combination of the Costco gas station's size (it will dispense an estimated 12 million gallons per year), its location along a private road ringing the mall property and the anticipated queuing of cars as "cause for concern."

Costco's open house is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Newport Mill Middle School, 11311 Newport Mill Road, in Kensington. Gas station opponents have objected to the format, saying they would have rather had a town hall-style meeting where questions and answers could be heard by all in attendance.

The Stop Costco Gas Coalition continues to oppose the gas station plans, citing health and environmental concerns, particularly because the gas station would be near the Stephen Knolls School for children with special needs. The coalition has uploaded Costco's special exception filings to its website, along with the group's responses and letters in opposition.

Will you be going to the Wednesday open house? What do you think of the Planning Department staff's negative report? Tell us in the comments.

ED February 25, 2013 at 04:03 PM
I have yet to see any resident mention the "membership" savings that Giant or Safeway shopper's receive at various local gas stations. My son received 50 cents off a gallon this week and $1.60 off a gallon two weeks ago at Shell in Wheaton. The Washington Post on Sunday had a coupon this week that guarantees 30 cents off a gallon of gasoline at Shell if you spend $50 at Giant (which is not hard to do).
Commentous February 25, 2013 at 04:29 PM
ED--Good point. The discounts available at Shell and Exxon--both located right on Georgia Avenue near the mall--should definitely decrease the number of drivers using the Costco for gas.
Janet MacNab February 27, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Ed to get the gas discount at Giant one must shop at Giant. To get a discount at Costco no requirement exist. One can purchase gas and not shop at Costco. The gas is uniform in price based on local taxes and a margin of 6% profit for Costco.
Danila Sheveiko February 27, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Janet: you are right - one can purchase gas and not shop at Costco, but you are forgetting that Costco gas is sold to members only - certainly a much higher threshold than purchasing some bagels at Giant. Wouldn't you agree?
ED February 27, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Janet - yes you would have to shop at Giant or at Safeway to get the gas discounts, but you do not have to pay for either supermarket membership. Most people purchase groceries anyway, can get good weekly sales at these stores, and would not need to store 2,000 rolls of toilet paper or 6 jars of mayonnaise.


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