Shell Oil Co. again seeks approval for gas station Environmentalists oppose plan for Mount Airy site

October 03, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Business and environmentalists are expected to clash next week when the Frederick County Planning Commission reconsiders a proposal for a gas station near Parrs Spring in Mount Airy.

Shell Oil Co. is making its second attempt to win planning commission approval for a gas station, convenience store and carwash on a 0.69-acre site on Lakeview Court, south of Interstate 70.

Environmentalists contend that even a small oil spill at the site could contaminate the headwaters of three rivers.

The Planning Commission rejected Shell's request in March, saying its application contained inadequate and inaccurate information. The company appealed to the county zoning appeals board, which ordered the planning commission to hear the request again.

An environmental risk assessment submitted by Shell last month concluded that "the Shell facility does not pose an unacceptable environmental risk to local surface or ground water resources."

The proposed station is about 600 feet from Parrs Spring, headwaters of the South Branch of the Patapsco River. It is in an area where springs feed the headwaters of the Monocacy and Patuxent rivers. One of Mount Airy's water supply wells is one mile from the site.

No underground storage facility is spill-proof, attorney Thomas A. Deming, who represents opponents, has argued in a pre-hearing statement.

"The ground water aquifer underlying the site and surrounding area is the sole available source of water for adjacent properties," Deming wrote. "[Shell] has failed to discuss or show that alternative sources of water would be available in the event of aquifer contamination."

Shell and the Frederick County Health Department have

wrestled with the question of how much septic capacity the site will need. State regulations call for up to 2,000 gallons a day capacity for gas stations near interstate highways, said Thomas G. Mohler, county well and septic system supervisor.

Percolation tests show the proposed Shell site can accommodate a maximum of 388 gallons a day.

"The Health Department said we can't allow the Shell station to advertise along [Interstate] 70, which they wanted to do, because when you advertise, you have to provide public restrooms," Mohler said.

He said county health officials would approve the septic system for the station on two conditions: if the state Department of the Environment approves Shell's plan for a carwash that recycles 100 percent of its water, and if restrooms are for employees only.

Shell's attorney, Edward C. Gibbs Jr., could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Winchester Hall, )) 12 E. Church St., Frederick.

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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