Need for U.S. 40 gas station in dispute Market is there, consultant says, but residents disagree

December 11, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

A proposed gas station for U.S. 40 near the Normandy Shopping Center is needed to fill the demands for fuel of the more than 40,000 motorists who travel the busy thoroughfare, a marketing consultant testified before the Howard County Board of Appeals last night.

But five Ellicott City communities, which have hired three attorneys to challenge the proposal, have contended that the gas station would make an already busy intersection more dangerous.

Testimony during the third of five Board of Appeals hearings centered on the need for the station, which would feature a convenience store and a fast-food outlet with a drive-through.

Route 40 "is a heavy commercial corridor that is oriented toward shopping. The gas station can operate successfully in that location," said marketing consultant John Sherwood. "And it won't severely impact competitors so as to drive them out of business."

Sherwood, hired by the gas station's developer, Carroll Independent Fuel Co., testified for more than two hours.

He said there is a demand for about 27.5 million gallons of gasoline a year from residents and commuters within the proposed station's "primary market" -- between the Howard-Baltimore County line to the east and U.S. 29 to the west.

The four gas stations in the primary market supply about 6 million gallons a year, Sherwood said.

But the attorneys for the communities -- the Oaks, Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill Estates, Normandy Heights and Governors Run -- challenged Sherwood's testimony, contending that the area is adequately served by existing gas stations.

Opponents, who did not testify last night, have said that traffic to and from the proposed gas station would further clog the intersection and make it more dangerous.

"A piece of me says it's going to happen," said John Borchers, a six-month resident of the Oaks. "But I want to know if someone has considered a traffic light. If that is a part of this [proposal], it would make me breathe easier."

Two more hearings are scheduled, Jan. 9 and 14.

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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