Montgomery County Council Votes for Shorter Setback for Mega Gas Stations

The Montgomery County Council reached a compromise on the Costco gas station proposed next to the Westfield Wheaton Mall.

The council had been considering a zoning amendment to appeal a rule blocking mega gas stations, defined by the council as a station pumping more than 3.6 million gallons per year, like the 16-pump station Costco wants to put at a new store, which is expected to pump more than 12 million gallons annually.

The Kensington Heights neighborhood has been fighting against Costco for two-and-a-half years. Among the concerns are falling property values.

The council was considering requiring a 1,000-foot setback between mega gas stations and recreations areas like schools and pools. Costco's proposed Wheaton station would violate that rule, with the Kenmont Swim and Tennis Club almost right next to the proposed gas pumps.

"We would love to have a Costco here," said Joyce Buckingham, of Kenmont. "They want to put the gas station here, which we're opposed to because of the fumes, the traffic. This area does not need another gas station here."

The council voted unanimously in favor of a 300-foot setback from mega gas stations Tuesday. There were only four votes in favor of the 1,000-foot setback, and it would have failed.

"The plans as we've currently submitted them do not comply with the requirement as it's been approved," said Jeffrey Ishida, of Costco. "So we'll have to take another look at that and see how that does impact us."

He said that if Costco is able to comply with the 300-foot setback by moving the planned location of the pumps, Costco would be willing to do that.

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