Skip to comments.Costco to change gas station plans after Montgomery vote (Monkey County Maryland)
Posted on 07/25/2012 2:09:56 AM PDT by markomalley
The Montgomery County Council unanimously voted Tuesday to tighten gas station zoning restrictions, effectively blocking Costco's highly disputed plans to build a station in Wheaton -- at least for now.
The decision bans large gas stations from locating within 300 feet of public or private spaces like schools and playgrounds. That means the warehouse retailer won't be allowed to build a large gas station near a community swimming pool and tennis court. The store, under construction at the Westfield Wheaton Mall, is still expected to open in October.
"Our current plan does not comply with the zoning text amendment as approved today," said Erich Brann, Costco's director of real estate development. "We are going to be looking at our plans closely and are hopeful that we can make it work. We will need to resubmit our application for a special exception to move forward."
County Executive Ike Leggett previously pushed through a $4 million subsidy to convince the retail giant to open a store in Montgomery County.
Before Tuesday's vote, council members were adamant the legislation was not trying to block Costco specifically. Rather, several members said the ban was to protect neighborhoods from large stations that are becoming more common and may pose health risks.
"We've got data that shows there's an increase risk of cancer from exposure to benzene and other things [at these stations]," Councilman Marc Elrich said before the vote. "I don't know how many cases of cancer are going to be caused. I don't need to find out how many are going to be caused. I don't need to use a neighborhood as a guinea pig and discover later on down the road this was not a particularly bright idea for us to have done."
The original zoning amendment attempted to ban gas stations that sell more than 3.6 million gallons of gasoline a year within 1,000 feet of homes and public spaces. But Elrich proposed shortening the distance to 300 feet as a compromise to help it pass.
"The goal would have been better achieved with a 1,000-foot buffer," said Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, who co-sponsored the amendment. "But ... it's legislation and it requires the majority of the council to sign off. ... But it seems to me the community still comes out ahead."
Leggett commended the compromise but said he's not sure how valid the health concerns are.
"[Elrich is] making an assumption that there has been a demonstrated health assessment made that it is in some way contrary to people's health," Leggett said. "But if it was clear, I think I would have very well supported it. But that's not clear."
Instead, Leggett argued the council should stay out of the issue. He said Costco should go through the typical government channels to assess the risks and decide whether it's OK to build.
Kenmont Swim & Tennis Club, which operates the nearby pool and tennis courts, declined to comment.
First, there was a lot of fear by the current gas stations in the region that this station might take a significant amount of business in the region. I might agree because Costco members are pretty strong in terms of membership in the region.
Second, yes it is next to a housing district and a community pool. There was a silly suggestion that gas could seep out and possibly get into the pool by some mysterious method. No one could really explain that logic but it was used for a while in fighting off the Costco add.
Third and final...I get the impression that Costco really didn’t go in and bribe up the local political figures like they are used to be handled. A $3k donation to this campaign fund of some guy, and a $20k donation to some community group, and you could have lined up support real quick. Remember, this is Maryland....”land of the free and campaign donations”.
I wonder where/how “monkey “ became a nickname for “Montgomery?” My grandmother, born in the 1890’s, used to call the old retailer Montgomery Ward, “Monkey Ward’s.”
Gas stations causing cancer. That’s a new one on me.
I have to drive 15 mi. to the nearest Costco. Probably a good thing.
There is one on the drawing boards much closer but the neighbors are fighting it.
We’ll see which side comes up with the biggest bribe.
More zoning abuse and you can see just how dumb the people making these decisions are.
Mine is about 3 miles away, always has the cheapest gas in the area, and is immediately adjacent (shares a parking lot) to a Home Depot. I like it.
Not dissimilar to Mayor Mumbles keeping Chick-Fil-A out of Boston.
Using zoning as a political bludgeon is unacceptable, and changing the rules on the fly because you don’t like big box stores is nothing but a political bludgeon.
I grew up in Montgomery County. Sadly it ain’t nothing like it was.
I did a lot of business there in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s not even what it was 20 years ago.
Heck, Police Chief Charles “Still waiting for the white van” Moose was a sure sign people there had lost their minds a decade ago.
This has happened occasionally due to tank deterioration and subsequent leakage from very old stations. New stations have double-walled tanks, and, I think, some means of monitoring the inter-wall space for leaks.
The law is stupid.
Cracker Barrel wanted to locate near the highway at the edge of our little KY town. They just came to town and publicly announced they were going to do it. They got shot down for all sorts of BS “zoning” reasons.
They waited a year and came back very quietly behind the scenes and paid “proper respect” to the appropriate people. Shazam, we now have a Cracker Barrel.
All gasoline contains benzene (and other polynuclear aromatics), some of which are known human carcinogens.
That said, AFAIK, there is zero evidence to prove a cause-effect link. This is all based on typical eco-radical propaganda.
Fairfax County managed to do the same thing to Costco but BJ’s has a gas station. Doesn’t make sense. Costcos in surrounding Loudoun and Prince William counties have gas stations.
Also, I guess cancer in PG county doesn’t matter so much since Costco has a gas station there in Beltsville across Route 1 from neighborhoods.
So, what I am saying is that it is an organic phenomenon that many people do on their own. I know I did.
Here in Indianapolis their gasoline is always the lowest price in a given area. They maintain the lowest markup over wholesale.
Costco is on the FR “do not shop” list, I can’t remember why.
Of course so is nearly every other retail chain in the US.
Received the following email yesterday:
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jim Sinegal, recently retired CEO and co-founder of Costco.
When my partner Jeff Brotman and I opened our first warehouse in Seattle in 1983, we started with nothing but our own initiative and our personal credit cards that we used to pay for our startup expenses.
Almost 30 years later, we have 605 stores and 160,000 employees. Costco is America's second largest retailer, and as you probably know, the foundation of our business is serving small entrepreneurs -- people like you -- with the everyday products you need to run your business.
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Watch this video to get the facts -- then join Small Business Owners for Obama to get the President's back.
President Obama is focused on creating an environment where small businesses can succeed, with the support of our government, our communities, and each other. That's why he's cut taxes for small business owners 18 times, and signed into law $200 billion in tax relief and incentives paid out over the past three years to encourage businesses to create jobs, invest, and grow. I'm proud to support him in this election.
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I truly believe there's no other country in the world where we could have been as successful.
Jim Sinegal Co-founder, Costco
Costco has been on the FR DNS list for a long time.
Along with almost every other retail chain, LOL.
So, ex post facto laws are okay now. Got it.
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