Rt. 15 Gas Station Plan Heads to Board of Supervisors

Plans to put one of the largest gas stations in Loudoun along Rt. 15 near Point of Rocks are headed to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval from the Planning Commission.

Originally proposed as a 5,600-square-foot convenience store accompanied by 12 gas pumps with 24 refueling stations, the property’s owners revised that application down to 20 fueling stations to be built on a 4.4-acre parcel across Rt. 15 from the Cigarette Outlet.

County planners remain opposed to the project, arguing the development doesn’t fit with rural development goals, and that county policies discourage expanding the rural commercial district, the zoning change the property’s owners are requesting.

According to a county staff report on the proposal, “this highway-oriented proposal with 20 fuel pumps is not agriculturally based, does not preserve farmland or open space, and does not contribute to the rural economy as intended in the [comprehensive] plan such as farming, agriculture, the equine industry, rural recreation, tourism, and compatible rural institutional uses.”

The application has faced strong public opposition, including a petition with more than 100 signatures. That petition pointed to the heavy congestion on Rt. 15 and the property’s proximity to the Potomac River.

But planning commissioners argued the proposal would be better than a county-approved plan from 1988 that would allow up to 8,000 square feet of retail space. Spokesman David D’Onofrio said the owners have decided that if the gas station is not approved, they’ll build a prefabricated metal cigarette outlet already allowed on the property—plans which have existed since 1988, and which would put the cigarette outlet across the street from another.

The application comes to the Board of Supervisors with an 8-1 vote in favor from the Planning Commission, with Commissioner Eugene Scheel (Catoctin) opposed. Scheel, whose district includes the property, said, “I don’t think a commercial venture of this type is appropriate in a rural, historic district.”

The gas station would be the largest in the county’s rural policy, with the next-largest two stations boasting only eight pumps, according to research by county staff members. It would be as large as the largest gas stations anywhere in the county, rivalled only by the 20 pumps at the Shell station at Pleasant Valley Road and Rt. 50, and the Royal Farms on Van Metre Drive off Broadlands Boulevard.

The owners have made an agreement with Visit Loudoun to sell and promote Loudoun County businesses and products at the station in 100 square feet of the store, and to donate $25,000 toward creating an app to map out and tie together rural businesses in western Loudoun.

Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. June 13.

This article was updated to correct an error regarding the date of the public hearing.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

3 thoughts on “Rt. 15 Gas Station Plan Heads to Board of Supervisors

  • 2018-06-04 at 5:26 pm
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    Clarification: The application documents state that the type of facility is “convenience store”–of which there are three others in and north of Lucketts (which also sell fuel). The proffer letter from the applicant states that a “maximum” of 100 square feet of space will offer “local products.” No minimum is given, so couldn’t we say 1 to 100 sq ft? (And how would that be enforced, if it turned out not to be the case? Would they have to tear down the building? Pay a fine?) By contrast, Roots 657 just south of Lucketts does have a large area devoted to local products–and a restaurant to boot. I don’t know why this would not be a preferred location for Visit Loudoun to have a tourism kiosk. The Roots owner would welcome it. The threat (which the applicant’s land use consultant always prefaces with “this is not a threat but”) of a metal building and yet another cigarette mart (which by the way helps facilitate illegal interstate tobacco operations) is a strong-arm tactic that has irritated citizens–and should also raise the ire of the Board of Supervisors. Finally, I believe there are nearly 400 signatures on a petition opposing the gas station.

  • 2018-06-05 at 10:07 am
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    The concerns raised by staff are all valid in that rezoning the property to allow the larger footprint would set a precedent for other areas of rural Loudoun. Even though it wouldn’t be “pretty,” if the cigarette outlet is permitted for the site by right and would not require any rezoning, then the landowner should be free to pursue that option. That being said, given the drastic reductions in overall tobacco use since the 1980s when the plan was originally approved, and the fact that there are already multiple places along Rt. 15 to buy cigarettes, its certainly an open question whether an 8000 square foot cigarette store would be a sustainable venture economically (probably not). That fact makes it seem like it is indeed a “threat” but one that wouldn’t work out for the developer or the community. But in the end, if that’s the use that is permitted by right, it holds the line, and shows that the county is serious about not allowing new non-ag uses to creep into the Rural Policy Area that has been established to support the rural economy.

  • 2018-06-05 at 10:57 am
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    It would be nice to have a place to buy gas between Frederick and Leesburg that ISN’T 30 cents per gallon above market rate. The places we have now are a rip off. That said, I’m against new development along the current road simply because it will make 4-laning 15 more expensive when it comes to ROW acquisition. If a new station is approved, any permanent structures should be required to have a set-back large enough to accommodate the future expansion of 15.

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