Statistics highlight meeting on gas station

Expert says traffic would support project

April 14, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Attorneys wrangled over traffic statistics during a Board of Appeals meeting last night on a proposed gas station in rural Glenwood.

The proposal has prompted almost 200 western Howard County residents to organize against what they consider unnecessary development.

The meeting at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City drew about 60 western county residents.

Officials of Glenwood LLC, the developer, are seeking a special exception builders must obtain to build a gas station in the business-zoned area. The proposed Freestate gas station would be part of a 3,000-square-foot shopping center that would include shops and a bank.

David A. Carney, the attorney representing Glenwood LLC, called a real estate economist to assess the necessity of the gas station at Route 97 and Carrs Mill Road.

John Sherwood III used a six-week study of area traffic that he developed to show why the area needs the 10-pump station, noting current and projected traffic volume along Route 97.

"This is a significant location in terms of traffic and activity," Sherwood said. "I believe there is a reasonable public need for the facility."

Sherwood said only one station is in a five-mile area around the site, and about 13,000 vehicles will come through the intersection next year. One station cannot support the 1.5 million gallons of gasoline that he estimates commuters would demand, he said.

Many assumptions

But David F. Mister of Lutherville, the attorney representing seven neighboring communities, questioned Sherwood's figures and said he was making too many assumptions.

"I am trying to understand where these numbers are coming from," Mister said.

Residents in seven Glenwood communities began rallying in February in opposition to the Freestate station, raising funds to hire an attorney and posting signs and fliers at nearby schools, shops and restaurants. The proposal has drawn opposition from neighborhoods in about a five-mile radius from the proposed station.

More than 200 opponents packed the March 2 board meeting -- the first on the proposal -- forcing officials to reschedule it for April 6. During that meeting -- which drew about 100 people -- proponents argued that the growing population of the western county needs another gas station, pointing to a Citgo station less than a mile away.

`Don't feel there is a need'

Opponents said the area doesn't need another station, particularly next to two schools -- Bushy Park Elementary and Glenwood Middle schools.

"We have never had a time where they were more than three of four cars" at a six-pump Citgo gas station about a mile from the site, said Benny Poole, who lives in Glenwood. "We just don't feel there is a need."

Poole said residents are worried about gasoline polluting their well-water system.

"You pollute our water, we're polluted," he said.

Jack Milani, who lives in the Glenwood Springs community, said the case prompted residents to form the Western Howard Association of Communities to better inform the community about development.

"We are not trying to fight every piece of development," Milani said. "We just want it to fit into the harmony of the community."

Proponents will finish their presentation at a meeting Thursday.

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