Opposition expected on proposed gas station, car wash Environmental concerns are cited by residents

March 12, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A Mount Airy man who wants to replace a real estate office with a gas station and car wash is expected to face opponents today who say the business would pose a pollution threat to the headwaters of the Patapsco River.

The debate over James Linthicum's request to build a Shell gas station, convenience store and car wash on his property near the intersection of Routes 27 and 144 will go to the Frederick County Planning Commission. The commission is scheduled to start site plan reviews at 2: 45 p.m. in Winchester Hall, 12 E. Church St., Frederick.

The .69-acre property, which houses a Long & Foster real estate office, is on Lakeview Drive about 600 feet from Parrs Spring, the headwaters of the South Branch of the Patapsco River. Opponents fear that waste water from the car wash or leakage from underground gasoline storage tanks could contaminate the ground water.

"The risks are great, the benefits few," Greg Becker, chairman of the Catoctin chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a letter to the commission. He asked the commission to request a full environmental evaluation of the river from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

"This is one of the greatest concentration of springs and stream valley heads in the state of Maryland," Don Maxey, a retired physics teacher and amateur geologist, told the planning commission last month. The commission continued the hearing to March.

"There is not an endless supply of ground water in this fracture zone," Maxey said. He said Parrs Spring, on nearby Four County Farm, is an aquifer designated for protection under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Mount Airy Town Planner Monika Jenkins pointed out that the proposed gas station would adjoin a watershed area for one of the town's wells. Jenkins said her letter to the planning commission was intended as a "heads up" to ensure that the planned underground gasoline tanks would meet environmental safeguards.

"As long as MDE and EPA [the Environmental Protection Agency] are involved with the environmental standards, I don't have any problem with it," she said.

Linthicum said opponents were focusing on the wrong watershed. "This site doesn't even drain to the Patapsco River. It drains to Bush Creek," he said.

Long & Foster will move its office March 21 to Ridgeside Drive. The gas station, convenience store and car wash will be "a good opportunity" for his Lakeview Drive property, Linthicum said. The property, zoned commercial, is just south of Interstate 70.

Linthicum said he understood that owners of residential properties might not want to live near a gas station, but he finds the environmental issue disingenuous.

The neighbors didn't protest when the Exxon station opposite his property added a car wash last fall, Linthicum said. "I would think that if they were true environmentalists, they would have been environmentalists in September and October," he said.

Architects for Shell Oil Co. are expected to present a revised site plan at today's hearing that relocates the planned car wash from the eastern to the southern boundary of the property.

Pub Date: 3/12/97

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