*TC With assurances that ground water would be protected, Frederick County Planning Commission voted 4-to-3 Wednesday night to permit construction of a gasoline station south of Mount Airy and close to Parrs Spring.
The Shell Oil Co. station would be on the east side of Route 27 at Route 144, south of Interstate 70.
The planning commission heard testimony for and against the proposal for about four hours, then voted in open session at 11 p.m. to approve it -- with numerous conditions that Shell agreed to meet.
Opponents argued that the underlying geologic formation at the site is unstable, with faults that might permit contamination of Parrs Spring, which lies about 600 feet away and feeds the headwaters of the Monocacy and Patuxent rivers. The spring is near the four-corners area of Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Montgomery counties; Parrs Spring Ridge separates the drainages of the Potomac and Patapsco rivers.
Shell's environmental-risk assessment concluded that the proposed facility does not pose an unacceptable environmental risk to surface or ground water.
The opponents have 30 days to appeal the planning commission decision to the county Board of Appeals, but attorney Tom Deming said he had not yet consulted with his clients.
He noted two concerns in addition to ground water: traffic and septic capacity. He said the Shell proposal had passed State Highway Administration traffic review, despite a curve and rush-hour backups of vehicles turning left on to Route 27.
At the hearing -- and with prodding from the county Health Department -- Deming said Shell had agreed that there would be no public restrooms.
The county planning staff had recommended the conditional approval, said Rick Brace, development-review planner.
Shell agreed to 14 conditions, including monitoring wells at the site to test for hydrocarbons and nitrates and indemnification for damage from any leaks.
In March, the planning commission rejected Shell's proposal, saying the application contained inadequate and inaccurate information. The company appealed to the Board of Appeals, which ordered the planning commission to hear the request again.
Brace praised both sides at Wednesday night's hearing, saying the quality and detail of their presentations went "way beyond what we usually see for gas stations -- light years beyond."
Pub Date: 10/10/97