Developer pitches gas station and convenience store at Churchton crossroads

Preliminary developer's plan for the former Smith Lumber property at the major crossroad in Churchton. It has a gas station and convenience store and two office/retail buildings.

The Baltimore developer seeking to build on the former Smith Lumber site in Churchton will try to get approval for a 12-pump gas station and convenience store much to the chagrin of most area residents who met with him this week.

But his plan also includes two potential medical facilities — something residents called for in a survey taken after the developer met with them last year. No medical tenants have signed on.


Developer David Strouse and his Birchwood Capital Partners held a similar meeting last October, but since they had not submitted preliminary plans within six months, another meeting was required under county rules.

In October, the plan was for a convenience store with gas pumps, a drive-in bank, fast-food outlet and two small office buildings.


The 5.16-acre site at the corner of Deale-Churchton and Shady Side roads has been vacant since it was bought by a subsidiary of Safeway Inc. in 2001 when the grocery giant was battling plans for a large shopping center in Deale.

Now the plan calls for a gas station/convenience store and two buildings potentially for medical uses.

"The reality is it is some time before the shovels are in the ground and people are not going to make a commitment that far ahead," Strouse told the crowd of about 45 people who gathered at the West River Methodist Center Monday night.

"Medical businesses are great tenants. I would love to have them," he said. But the market will determine what will go in the buildings, he said.

At the meeting, a resident voiced her concern.

"I moved here from Rockville, I don't want another Rockville, I want Shady Side, Deale and Churchton."

Outside of the convenience/gas outlet facing Deale-Churchton Road, the main potential office/retail building is a two-story 22,600 square-foot building.

Another part of the same C-4 commercial property has a house on it. That part of the property could have a 4,000-square-foot building on it with a separate entrance.


The potential for a gas-station raised traffic concerns.

The plan as designed will have one entrance on Deale-Churchton Road and another on Shady Side Road.

Several people at the meeting said the location will be a traffic nightmare, with some suggesting a traffic circle.

After last fall's meeting, a survey was taken about the community's ideas for the property.

Of 451 respondents, 45 percent wanted a recreational facilities or services, 22 percent thought a major medical facility was a good idea.

Fast food garnered six percent. A gas station with convenience store got 23 votes or five percent. A convenience store itself came in at one percent.


The developer's engineer, Tim Martin of Bay Engineering, said the plan suggests medical uses for the two other buildings because medical facilities require the most parking. "Parking drives the use," he said.

Once the plan is submitted, county planners will determine if the plan meets standards for approval.