Council urges state law to help disabled at pump Members seek full service for all

June 11, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The Howard County Council would like the General Assembly delegation to help disabled motorists get full-service pumping at self-service gas stations.

State law requires service station dealers with full-service pumps to provide gas at a self-service price to disabled drivers, but it exempts gas stations operated by only one cashier, stations whose pumps are operated by remote control, and stations that are exclusively self-service.

The county Board of Appeals says that's too much of a loophole and asked the County Council to do something about it.

The board wanted the County Council to enact legislation that would require service stations of every stripe to provide full service to disabled patrons.

Deputy County Solicitor Paul T. Johnson told the council yesterday that may not be possible because county law cannot conflict with state law.

Since the state already regulates gas stations, there is "an implied pre-exemption" that such regulation is solely within the state's province, he said.

The council, which was holding its monthly meeting to deal with housekeeping matters yesterday, agreed.

"I would very much like to write the state delegation about this as something that's coming in the future," said council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st.

Ms. Pendergrass said she had not filled her gas tank yesterday morning as she had planned, and that if she were disabled and had only one place in the county to get gasoline, she might be in danger.

Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, said such a danger might be most prevalent on the interstate highways running through the county. "Traveling interstates is the most difficult situation for the handicapped," he said.

The council agreed to ask the county's General Assembly delegation to consider the matter.

Board of Appeals members became concerned about the issue recently when considering a special exception for a gas station.

"Several board members noted that the law requires designated handicapped parking spaces but does not require full-service pumping for handicapped motorists," board chairwoman Evelyn Tanner wrote the council.

Since Howard County is in the heart of the Washington-Baltimore corridor, large numbers of disabled motorists travel through the county, Ms. Tanner said.

That fact and the trend toward self-service pumping in the gasoline industry make it important for the county to require full service for disabled persons at all county gas stations, she said.

"Such a requirement would not be unduly burdensome for business, would facilitate travel and commerce, increase public safety, and would allow handicapped motorists to know that they will be reasonably accommodated in Howard County," Ms. Tanner told the council.

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