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Panel approves Route 27 gas station


Mount Airy's Planning and Zoning Commission voted last night to recommend a special exception for a proposed gas station and tourism center off state Route 27.

Ewing Oil Co. has proposed building the gas station -- which also would serve as a tourism center for Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties through a public-private venture -- on the proposed extension of East Ridgeville Boulevard.

The commission was deadlocked on the request last fall, after some members argued that the special exception was pointless until the State Highway Administration approved access to Route 27.

However, SHA officials have since approved access from the proposed East Ridgeville Boulevard, although access at Ridgeville Boulevard will be closed, town officials said.

The proposal will go to the town's Board of Appeals, which issues final rulings on special exception requests.

The Board of Appeals is expected to meet within a month.

The request was made because gas stations are only allowed in community commercial zones as special exceptions, officials said.

James Clifford, a Ewing attorney, said the site plans have been changed slightly.

The company has eliminated a proposed car wash, shortened gas pump islands and reconfigured the islands to make them more convenient to customers.

"I think it's an improvement," said board member Clark Wagner.

Craig Meredith, Ewing's construction manager, declined to state the cost of the station.

"We will build as soon as we get all the needed approvals," he said.

If the Board of Appeals approves the project, site plans will go through the regular planning review and approval process, town officials said.

Board members have sought the private-public venture to promote tourism in the southwest part of the county. The tourism center would be accessible to Route 27 and Interstate 70, both of which are heavily traveled.

Town planner Teresa Bamberger also recommended approval of the special exception, saying the location is "within and compatible to the surrounding commercial district."

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