Board says no to a 24-hour gas station

But panel will allow it to open an hour earlier

August 27, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A decision by a Howard County board left Tom Flynn scratching his head last night.

Flynn heard the Board of Appeals conclude that the operator of an Exxon gas station in North Laurel had not persuaded the panel to grant the station's request to remain open 24 hours.

But he also heard the board allow Joseph Duncan, who operates the gas station in the 9200 block of All Saints Road from 6 a.m. to midnight, to open an hour earlier.

Flynn was baffled.

"It seems a little inconsistent that if the evidence was insufficient for six hours, why would it be sufficient for one hour?" asked the president of the North Laurel Civic Association. "You either find the evidence to do it or you don't."

Four members of the board determined that Duncan had not met the burden of proof to justify a change in the operating hours.

Duncan said he wanted to be able to continuously serve customers. Some civic activists were opposed, saying there would be more noise, intrusive lighting and possibly more crime for the area.

Board member William B. Waff dismissed a petition of 1,176 names in favor of a 24-hour station that Duncan had submitted.

"The only evidence offered was a petition of names, none of whom showed up to testify," Waff said. "That would suggest that there was no preponderance of evidence in my opinion."

Board member James W. Pfefferkorn reminded colleagues that Duncan had said having a 24-hour operation was not critical to him.

"He said he didn't care if he got the 24 hours or not," Pfefferkorn said. "That sort of disturbed me."

Board member Jacqueline Scott agreed, but suggested Duncan be allowed to open an hour earlier for commuters leaving for work before 6 a.m. The board voted 4-0 in favor of the change. Board member Robert C. Sharps abstained. He had not attended a previous hearing on the issue.

Duncan and his attorney, Francis R. Hunter Jr., refused to comment after the board's decision.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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