Opening of new Wheaton Costco delayed

October 23, 2012

Costco’s new store at the Westfield Wheaton shopping mall, originally scheduled to open Oct. 18, will now open its doors in about five or six months, according to the transcript of a recent earnings call.

“I think most recently I mentioned that we estimated 15 [new] locations; one in Wheaton, Maryland, has been delayed due to construction issues and we estimate it now to open in March or April,” the company’s Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said in the transcript of the call, in which he reported the financial results of Costco’s fourth quarter in 2012.

Jeffrey Z. Ishida, vice president of real estate development for Costco Wholesale’s eastern division, also told The Gazette that the store opening was delayed because of “a construction issue” but would not describe the issue.

However, he said it did not have to do with a 16-pump gas station planned for the site.

The delayed opening was announced not long after Costco filed a Stormwater Management Concept Plan in September after the passing of a zoning text amendment that bans larger gas stations from being built within 300 feet of any school, park, playground or other cultural park, according to Director of Real Estate Development Erich Brann.

In keeping with these requirements, the company decided to move the gas station slightly eastward to stand at least 300 feet from the Kenmont Swim & Tennis Club and its outdoor recreation users.

The new location requires that Costco resubmit its Stormwater Management Concept Plan and “a very long list” of other documents the wholesaler needs approved for a special exception hearing before a hearing examiner from the county Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings, Brann said.

The hearing examiner will make a recommendation to the county Board of Appeals, which will make the final decision, Brann said. Should the board grant the special exception, Costco can then apply for a building permit from the county.

“We had to start the exception process over,” Brann said, adding, “It’s going to cost us at least eight months.”

The Department of Permitting Services has returned the concept plan to Costco with comments, said Rick Brush, division chief of the department’s Land Development Division.

The comments, Brush said, include directions to design an additional level of treatment to the gas station’s pavement that would help prevent potential pollutants, such as gas, from running into the drainage system.

The original concept plan from Costco included the additional treatment, but it had been left out of the new plan, he said.

The plan has not been approved and the department was waiting for Costco to reply to the comments as of Tuesday, Brush said.

Brann said the other documents, including a traffic study and an air quality study, will be submitted to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission by the end of the month.

lpowers@gazette.net

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