Snowden River businesses denied standing in gas station case

Two businesses located off of Snowden River Parkway in Columbia have been denied standing to challenge a county decision that would allow direct access to the parkway for a proposed Royal Farms gas station across the street.

Howard County Hearing Examiner Michele LeFaivre ruled last week that the owners of AMHA LLC, who run a gas station at the intersection of Snowden River and Minstrel Way, and British American Building LLC, an auto repair shop located within the Guilford Industrial Park, will not be impacted any more significantly by the new access point than members of the general public and therefore do not have a right to appeal the zoning decision.

Royal Farms has plans to build a gas station and convenience store on the site, at 9585 Snowden River Parkway, and to lease out additional space to Canton Car Wash. In February, the county's Department of Planning and Zoning granted the gas chain a waiver for a right-in/right-out access point that would allow customers to turn into the gas station from Snowden River Parkway.

If the right-in/right-out entryway is built, it would be the first time a business has been allowed to gain direct access to the parkway. Customers traveling to other businesses along the corridor have to turn off of Snowden River and onto a secondary road before arriving at their destination.

Amran Pasha, the owner of AMHA LLC, has argued that the access point will create a dangerous traffic situation that will discourage customers from frequenting his gas station; or, as LeFaivre summarized it, "Good traffic is good for business; bad traffic is bad for business."

Pasha also contends that he has an automatic right to appeal the zoning department's decision because he is an adjacent property owner.

Brian England, who owns British American, testified that his business has already been affected by drivers cutting through the industrial park, a situation he believes will worsen if Royal Farms' access point creates more difficult traffic.

A traffic expert and a land-valuation expert retained by Royal Farms dismissed these concerns, arguing that neither the land's value nor the traffic situation along Snowden River would be worsened by DPZ's decision.

AMHA and British American are expected to appeal the Hearing Examiner's ruling. 

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