When Costco and Westfield announced the proposed expansion in February 2010, it was obvious that the most immediate impact would be on the Kensington Heights community. At initial meetings of the Kensington Heights Civic Association (KHCA) there was general approval of the planned Costco store, but significant opposition to the plans for a mega gas station at the initially proposed site. A Costco Working Group was established within KHCA and a classic David vs. Goliath battle commenced, between a small neighborhood civic association (KHCA) and two massive corporations (Costco and Westfield). KHCA achieved a number of successes, the details of which are available on their website. We have prepared a brief synopsis of the relevant events through the Fall of 2012; this is available here. [You may also wish to look at our Talking Points document, available here.] Costco filed a new application for a Special Exception with the Board of Appeals, in mid-November of 2012. A form to request being made a Party of Record (see our TAKE ACTION page) is available here. Check our CALENDAR & RECENT UPDATES page for our most current info on where the timing on this process stands. But while all await the Special Exception process to resume, the SCGC Coordinating Committee is reaching out to interested individuals and groups to help build the coalition.
By mid 2012, as more people from outside the Kensington Heights community were becoming interested in the issue of the proposed mega gas station and its larger implications, it became obvious that a broader coalition should be created. Thus was born the STOP COSTCO GAS COALITION (SCGC). Below is a an extensive list of documents relevant to understanding this issue and its history, including brief descriptions of their content and links to enable those who are interested to download/view these documents. All of this material is in the public domain (and could be found by appropriate searches on the internet). Creating this on line archive is a work in progress. Thus this page (and several others on this website) is under constant revision and is growing as new materials are added; please scroll down to see all major sections.
The SPECIAL EXCEPTION PROCESS
We have attempted, in the brief synopsis cited above, to 'explain' the SE process. A nice flow chart overview of the process is available here. To read an somewhat more detailed discussion of how the SE process applies to gas stations, click here. [See the Needs section of our CONCERNS page for our position on the 'need' for this mega station.] A link to the County DPS webpage on this is here. And a more detailed document (pdf) can be accessed here. If you would like to become a Party of Record in this process, look at the Board of Appeals User Guide. As of 11/16/12, a new Special Exception application has been filed by Costco. It has been assigned the new number S-2863. You can access the form to request being a Party of Record by clicking here.
Approval or denial of application S-2863 will be determined in accordance with Chapter 59 of the Montgomery County Code. This is a VERY long document. We have excerpted two relevant sections. Section 59-G-2.06 (which is brief and specifically relates only to gas stations) is available here. Section 59-G.1 (which has general relevance to various uses, including gas stations - and thus is also important) is available here.
A "timeline" for the SE process is available here. It is accurate as of December 22, 2012, but subject to change for various reasons: for example we have filed a Motion to revisit the issue of Hearing Examiner hearing dates (see the Recent Updates page of this website) and that Motion is still pending.
We are attempting to make available as many of the filings in this case as possible. To access digital versions of these files, click here.
Media coverage of the S-2863 controversy was spotty and at times quite inaccurate. We initially attempted to post links to selected articles (and/or TV/radio coverage), but were soon swamped by the work that was required by our participation in the process - especially the marathon series of hearings. In preparing this website for archiving, we recognized that anyone wishing to look into media coverage would probably do a search of the Internet (e.g. using Google), based on keywords like Costco, Wheaton, gas station, etc. Therefore we have only reproduced a few of the listings that were in this section as of October, 2015. [In fact, many of the media links no longer worked!]
The Board of Appeals decision to deny S-2863 was covered by WUSA 9. To read the article and view a video clip, click here.
An article in Greater Greater Washington (3/11/13) explains why the proposed gas station will impede Wheaton's revitalization and redevelopment. Click here.
Our webmaster's tongue-in-cheek column on the Costco controversy appeared (1/31/13) in the Federation Corner of the Montgomery Sentinel. Available here.
Greater Greater Washington (1 November 2012) sees Costco as trying to make an end-run around the law. For their article click here.
The WheatonPatch has been tracking this issue for some time. For their article (25 July 2012) on the passage of ZTA 12-07 (and various background materials) click here.
A very large archive of earlier media coverage is available as an rtf download (should open in Word) here.
The final version of ZTA 12-07 (creating a minimal buffer between large gas stations and certain "sensitive land uses") was available on the MoCo Council website, but the link we had is no longer valid. Similarly, the full information packet that was provided for the PHED committee meeting (9 July 2012) on ZTA 12-07 and which formed the basis for final discussions by the entire Council (24 July 2012) is no longer available at the URL we posted in early 2013.
To view a video of the County Council session (24 July 2012) at which an amended version of ZTA 12-07 was discussed and passed, click here.
To view a video of the County Council Public Hearing on ZTA 12-07 (19 June 2012), click here.
POSITIONS TAKEN BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
The Montgomery County Civic Federation delegates voted (3 December 2012) to support our position. A complete description is available here.
The WeAreMoCo comments on the process by which the amended version of ZTA 12-07 was passed are available here.
A statement by the Sierra Club (Maryland Chapter, Montgomery County Group), opposing the proposed Costco gas station at Westfield Wheaton was available on the Sierra Club website, but the link was non-functional when we began archiving the SCGC website. We will attempt to find/post the new link.
A letter from the Audubon Naturalist Society to the Montgomery County Planning Director, requesting immediate action on the Forest Conservation Plan exemption granted to developers of the Costco project at Westfield Wheaton Mall may be viewed here.
For documentation on the various issues involved in considering the proposed siting of this mega gas station, see the specific sections on the CONCERNS page.