Costco’s battle for Md. gas station moves to state’s second-highest court

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In an ongoing battle by Costco to build a large gas station at one of its stores in suburban Maryland, both sides presented oral arguments in front of the state’s second-highest court Monday morning.

Costco has been arguing its case for seven years, and the issue has now moved on to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis.

The retail giant wants to sell gas by building a 16-pump gas station at its warehouse store at the Westfield Wheaton mall, but members of the community have been consistently pushing back against the plan.

“The station just simply raised too much of a risk of health issues and also too many traffic and congestion and pedestrian safety issues,” said Karen Cordry, president of the Kensington Heights Civic Association. “It’s not a compatible use with the local neighborhood area.”

Cordry spoke on behalf of the opposition during Monday’s court hearing along with Kathryn Lloyd, an attorney for Montgomery County. They claim the gas station would be disruptive and would lead to potentially harmful fumes drifting through the air near homes. They also say the station’s location would be too close to a school for medically fragile children with special needs, as well as an outdoor community swimming pool.

Attorneys for Costco have a different opinion. John Griffith, a lawyer for Costco, told the court there is little evidence to support the claim that the station would cause adverse health effects in the area. He said emissions from the station would meet standards set by state and federal regulators.

The latest arguments by Costco come after a setback in late 2015, when a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sided with the county’s Board of Appeals, which had rejected the gas station proposal. Before that decision, a county hearings examiner ruled that Costco was not successful in proving that the station would not be a risk to the health and safety of people who live in the area.

It is not clear when a ruling on the latest court hearing may be issued.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Cordry. “This was a very massive case, and there’s a lot to read through, but I think they clearly indicated that they were on top of it.”

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