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County Council to Vote on Gas Station Zoning Text Amendment

Legislation that the County Executive's Office of the Attorney has deemed unconstitutional will come to a vote at the Montgomery County Council's Tuesday afternoon session.

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on ZTA 12-07, a controversial bill that if approved would block the construction of a proposed Costco gas station in Wheaton. 

Last week, the County Executive's Office of the Attorney issued an opinion stating 

Zoning Text Amendment 12-07 would prevent gas stations that dispense more than 3.6 million gallons per year from being located within 1,000 feet of "any public or private school, or any park, playground, or hospital, or other public use, or any use categorized as a cultural, entertainment and recreation use.”

If the ZTA passes, Costco will not be able to build its proposed 16-pump gas station at Westfield Wheaton. If the ZTA fails, Costco will continue through the regular special exception process.

, is sponsored by Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer.

Although Rice is one of the original co-sponsors, he is considered a swing vote, as is Councilmember Phil Andrews, the Washington Examiner reported Sunday.

"It's not how the bill affects just one gas station but how it affects all gas stations in the county," Andrews said, adding that his decision was "up in the air" but that legal arguments from Leggett's team were "extremely unpersuasive."

The Kensington Heights Civic Association, which supports ZTA 12-07 as a buffer between the neighborhood it represents and the proposed Costco gas station at the bordering mall, sent Andrews a letter to try and sway his vote. The KHCA appealed to Andrews' past support of public health bills such as the controversial ban on smoking in restaurants to protect employees from secondhand smoke.

Tuesday's Council session will be televised on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and streamed live online.

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

 

Timothy July 24, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I believe ED is mistaken. At the committee hearing on the proposed ZTA, the question was asked about whether Costco couldn't move the filling station to another spot at Westfield. The response from the witness was that the only place on the Westfeld property that wouldn't be excluded from such use by the ZTA was the entrance road off of University Boulevard. NOT the area adjacent to the entrance road; the entrance road itself. Either that or try to force some other existing tenant to move/close up business. BTW, I think you can expect Valerie Ervin o get "cold feet" andback off of her support of the ZTA. let's see if she does
Andrea July 24, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I watched the hearing live on the web. They amended the ZTA to prohibit mega-gas stations within 300 feet of "any public or private school, or any park, playground, or hospital, or other public use, or any use categorized as a cultural, entertainment and recreation use.” The ZTA passed unanimously with this new amendment. I guess this means Costco gets its gas and we get an increased risk for all sorts of health problems. Sigh.
Interrobang July 24, 2012 at 06:54 PM
According to WAMU Costco's plans are now up in the air: https://twitter.com/MattBushMD/status/227834425847726080
ED July 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
The question you are talking about, Timothey, was asked if they could, for example, move to the University Blvd. entrance. Costco stated they could not and they could not move to other parts of the mall because of "leases" that have parking agreements. No one knows whether this is true or not. Answers from Costco and Westfield often times shift - originally, Costco said they had to be able to "see" the gas station, at the PHED meeting, it was because of "lease" agreements.
ED July 24, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The ZTA that passed today, a little different than stated, does not gaurantee that Costco will get their gas station. It only means that they will still have to go through the Special Exception process and the siting of the gas station will have to have a 300' buffer from schools, day care centers, or various outdoor activity uses. If the "lease" parking agreements were truly holding Costco back from moving the station on Westfield Mall, they may have to withdraw their application. Regardless, I commend the whole County Council for the unanimous vote to create this 300' buffer area. I only wish it had been as "progressive" as PG County and included residential properties in the list of "buffer" area uses.

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