Opposition Mounting over New Gas Station
Developers of the proposed gas station in Bay Forest Shopping Center are already feeling push back from community members.
Last month, developers applied for a special exception from the city of Annapolis to build a Stop and Shop gas station in the parking lot of the Bay Forest Shopping Center, which is home to the Bay Ridge Giant supermarket.
In response to a request from the city, on Nov. 22 representatives of the developer’s agent, Hyatt and Weber, met with community members from the Fairwinds Condominiums, which are adjacent to the shopping center, to address concerns and to reinforce support for the project.
However, it seems opposition to the project is growing instead.
While the Fairwinds Board of Directors has not issued a statement of support or opposition, David Iams, a Fairwinds resident and vice president of the board, has serious concerns about the project.
From his perspective as a Fairwinds resident, Iams is “distressed” about the proposal for a variety of reasons.
“Fairwinds was not approached [ahead of time] regarding this project although we are directly across the street and would be most impacted,” said Iams in an e-mail.
While the Planning Commission, which has the ultimate say on whether or not the project goes forward, has focused heavily on mitigating environmental impacts of the gas station, Iams fears that increased traffic along Georgetown Road will be an even bigger issue.
Since the development plans don’t call for the creation of any additional access points into the shopping center, Iams believes the increased traffic is something the roads simply can’t handle.
“Georgetown Road is woefully inadequate to handle any increase in traffic,” said Iams.
In a personal account of what happened at the meeting, which Iams shared with Greater Annapolis Patch, residents expressed concern over an increase in traffic from area residents as far away as Edgewater. Giant, which would own and operate the gas station, offers discounts on gas prices for those who shop at their supermarket.
“It was pointed out that shoppers of Giant in Edgewater and Riva may also come to this Giant for the perceived savings,” said Iams.
At last month’s meeting, developers focused significantly on mitigating the impact of gasoline run-off, according to Iams. The proposed plans call for the construction of an oil grid filter, which would attempt to clean up and reduce the flow of liquids going from the pavement to the storm drain, which eventually leads to the Chesapeake Bay.
Iams seems to think the developer’s focus on the environmental aspect is simply posturing to turn attention away from other problems.
“I think that the developer has shifted the focus away from real issues and has tried to make the debate about runoff and traffic coming from the Bay Ridge area,” said Iams. “The real issues have to do with the increased traffic on Georgetown Road and the fact that this project is in direct conflict with the city’s comprehensive plan.”
With many questions still swirling, the Fairwinds Board has yet to decide if it will support the project. However, Fairwinds won’t be alone if they decide to oppose the new gas station.
The Mariner’s Point community has already voiced opposition to the project, and according to Iams, a representative from the Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation attended the November meeting and is also in opposition.
While it’s unclear what role community pushback will play in the approval process, the Planning Commission is set to revisit the issue at the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 6, 2011.
“The plans are under interagency review and will be sent to the Planning Commission for their records and review prior to the continued meeting for this application,” said Phill McGowan, public information officer for the city of Annapolis.
About the Project
The gas station would be adjacent to the existing Wachovia Bank, and will include four two-car fueling stations, as well as a 60-square-foot kiosk. The facility will be “full service and open to the public with discounts for Giant customers,” according to site information provided by Iams.
The station would be open during regular Giant store hours, and the development would take up 47 existing parking spaces in the shopping center, leaving 465 remaining spaces, according to Iams.