High's gas-pump proposal sparks debate at hearing

June 27, 1996|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Howard County Board of Appeals will decide Tuesday whether High's of Baltimore Inc. should be granted a special exception to operate a gas station in a Lisbon shopping center.

Two gas pumps at the proposed convenience store near Old Frederick and Woodbine roads are the center of a community debate.

Neighbors argued at a 4 1/2 -hour Board of Appeals hearing Tuesday that the motorists using nearby Interstate 70 would flock to the High's for food and gas, creating hazards in the already congested area.

Signs on the I-70 ramp now direct motorists to gas stations south of the shopping center. If High's moves in and operates Texaco gas pumps as proposed, signs for both food and gas will draw increased traffic north toward the shopping center, residents testified at the hearing.

And that will mean more serious car accidents, according to Cynthia Brennan, a Woodbine resident who represented the community. She was armed with reports of at least five accidents in the shopping area and a petition signed by nearly 400 residents, though fewer than 10 attended the hearing because of a miscommunication, she said.

Residents also questioned whether the community, which has three gas stations within a mile of one another, needs another station.

High's, represented by attorney David Carney of Columbia, said the area would support another station, citing residential growth estimates and market research as evidence.

Though Carney conceded that there may be traffic problems in the area, he said High's, a chain of 125 convenience stores in the Baltimore area, will not be the cause of them.

The county planning board already recommended that High's be granted the special exception for the gas pumps. If the Board of Appeals does not approve it, High's Vice President Brian Darnell said the company has not decided whether it will go ahead with the convenience store.

Pub Date: 6/27/96

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