Costco's gas station zoning bill voted on

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Montgomery County Council reached a compromise Tuesday on where gas stations could be located in relation to schools, pools and rec centers, among other locations.

The compromise, though, will send the warehouse retailer back to the planning stages on whether or not they will still build a gas station at their Wheaton location.

“The most important thing is to try to get something that protects people,” says Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich. “It's not perfect but it's a lot more than we ever had before.”

The council was earlier asked to keep gas stations at least 1,000 feet from such locations. On Tuesday, a compromise was struck that keeps gas stations at least 300 feet away from nearby schools, pools and other community-oriented areas.

Originally, Costco planned to erect a 16-pump gas station at their store on the footprint of the Westfield Wheaton mall, but some civic activists say the station would create a public health risk to nearby residents and a swimming pool across the street.

What this means for Costco is that the company needs to go back to the drawing board. They need to figure out if the proposed gas station would still be on the footprint of the Wheaton mall.

“I think the business model will be impacted if we don't have a gas station there,” says Jeff Ishida of Costco. “If it’s possible, we can move it and comply with that absolutely we will do that.”

In the meantime, the gas station isn't coming anytime soon. The soonest a gas station could open is a year from now.

In a statement given to the Washington Post, Costco’s Director of Real Estate Development, said the bill represents “public policy gone awry.”