The Frederick County Planning Commission delayed a decision on a controversial Rutter’s store in New Market for a week to give residents who couldn’t attend a hearing Wednesday because of concerns about the new coronavirus disease time to submit written testimony.
The proposed site development plan for the project still drew a large crowd to Winchester Hall to express concerns about the project.
However, several dozen people from the Signature Club at Greenview retirement community had signed up to charter a bus to the meeting, but canceled the plan after Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that people over 60 should avoid crowds as much as possible, Michele Rosenfeld, a lawyer representing a group of residents opposed to the store, told the commission.
The public record on the project will remain open until 9:30 a.m. March 16 for anyone to submit written testimony at PlanningCommission@frederickcountymd.gov.
The proposed 8,427-square-foot project at Md. 144 and Mussetter Road would have 20 gas pumps and an accessory carwash on a 12-acre lot, although the store would take up less than half of the lot, according a report prepared by county staff.
A site plan for a 117,000-square-foot shopping center was approved for the entire parcel in 2007, but was never built.
Both access points into the store would be off Mussetter Road rather than Md. 144, said Jerry Muir, a principal planner for the county.
Tim Beaver, with Rutter’s, said the project originally involved selling diesel fuel for large trucks, but the company decided to go with regular pumps.
Residents expressed concerns that large trucks would come off Interstate 70 to get fuel.
Beaver said he doubts that would happen, since trying to fill a tractor-trailer with diesel from a standard fuel pump wouldn’t be practical.
The project would require 29 parking spaces, but Rutter’s is requesting 67 spaces. The county’s staff report indicated the county would be willing to accept the change if an increase in tree canopy coverage for the site to 20 percent can be achieved.
Despite some nearby residents’ inability to attend the hearing, plenty of people still came to Winchester Hall to register their complaints about the project, with more than a dozen speaking.
Several speakers opposed the store’s plans to operate 24 hours a day, as well as the number of pumps planned.
The store may not attract tractor-trailers, but it would still get a lot of trucks with trailers, box trucks, vans, motor homes and similar vehicles, said Elmer Turner, the Signature Club chairman.
Other businesses on Md. 144 aren’t open 24 hours a day, said Michelle Case, president of the Greenview homeowners association.
Resident Pearl Daniels said she looked at other gas stations around I-70, Interstate 270, U.S. 15 and U.S. 40, and found several with 12 to 16 pumps, but none with 20.
The Planning Commission will meet Wednesday to hear the applicant’s rebuttal and make its deliberations, Chairwoman Carole Sepe said.