Wegmans clears another hurdle

June 06, 2008|By June Arney | June Arney,Sun Reporter

The Columbia Wegmans grocery store faces one less hurdle after a challenge to approval of its site development plan was dismissed this week.

Michele LeFaivre, Board of Appeals hearing examiner, ruled Monday that "the 30-day filing has to be very strictly construed," before dismissing the appeal brought by Philip Rousseau, a Columbia resident whose property backs up to within about 15 feet of Snowden River Parkway, which is expected to handle much more traffic as a result of the development.

Attorneys representing Wegmans, which is a nonunion store, had argued for the dismissal.

"I don't think it's the right decision," said Susan B. Gray, a civic activist attorney from Highland who represents Rousseau. "If this is the way the interpretation is going to stay, it's totally different from what's coming out of the Department of Planning and Zoning, and it's totally different from common practice under the Maryland rules of court. If we were to appeal it, and it held, what you have here is a trap for the everyday person filing an appeal."

Gray said she has not decided whether to appeal the decision. Other appeals are pending.

The 160,000-square-foot Wegmans store is slated to break ground next year at Snowden River Parkway and McGaw Road, opposite Apple Ford in east Columbia. The store would be two stories and nearly triple the size of most area supermarkets. A two-story garage is to be built on 12.2 acres at the southwest corner of the site, with 939 parking places.

The project is expected to challenge the dominance of the Giant and Safeway chains in Howard County. A Harris Teeter opened in Kings Contrivance Village Center last month, and a Trader Joe's store opened recently in Gateway Overlook.

june.arney@baltsun.com

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