Nearly five years ago, Ranchleigh resident Louis J. Leder was successful in convincing the Baltimore-based Royal Farms chain to construct a sidewalk in front of its convenience store at Smith Avenue and Old Pimlico Road.

“They were very amicable to putting up the sidewalk by the synagogue,” he said, referring to the Lubavitch Center at 6713 Old Pimlico Rd. “There’s a lot of activity around there, so it all worked out.

“But we don’t want a gas station,” Leder said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Royal Farms’ proposal to install a gas station next to the store at 2330 Smith Ave. will be discussed at a public Planning Board meeting of Baltimore County Council District 2 on Mar. 5 at 6 p.m. at Pikesville High School, 7621 Labyrinth Rd. (A small sign in front of the store announces the zoning request and upcoming meeting.)

The meeting will focus on the county’s 2020 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, which takes place every four years and will be finalized by the County Council on Sept. 16.

Baltimore County Councilman Israel C. “Izzy” Patoka (D-2nd) said he would not comment on the Royal Farms issue until after the hearing and reading the Planning Board recommendations. “I want to protect the integrity of the process before I comment,” he said.

Inquiries to representatives of Royal Farms from Jmore were not returned.

Beth Rheingold, president of the Pikesville-Owings Mills Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in an email about the Royal Farms matter, “Our newly formed real estate committee is looking into several of the CZMP issues, but as a general rule, Chambers of Commerce promote commerce and free enterprise.”

The Smith Avenue Royal Farms store, which now operates 24/7, reopened in February of 2016 after being closed for more than a year for remodeling. The grand opening included the temporary installation of a two-story, inflatable Royal Farms chicken mascot on the store’s front lawn.

Last November, Leder formed a group called the Committee to Stop Royal Farms Gas Station on Smith and Old Pimlico. The committee contends that a filling station at the site would increase neighborhood crime; endanger children and others crossing the streets; and raise the risks of health hazards and environmental damage due to gas emissions, exposure to toxic chemicals, and air and soil pollution.

“They want a gas station, they want their money. But we live here,” said Leder, whose home is located across the street from the store. “[The site] used to be a restaurant. To go from a restaurant to a store, OK. But a gas station? It’s just too much. We’re talking about our health here. Besides the [fuel] tanks, there are so many environmental and traffic issues here.”

The committee contends that a gas station would dramatically spike traffic congestion; endanger adults and children walking to the adjacent Lubavitch Center and other local synagogues; increase the noise levels at all hours of the day and night; uproot the remaining trees and shrubbery on the parcel of land; and decrease area home property values.

“It’s just too close to everything and too busy an intersection,” Leder said. “It already gets very crowded in the mornings. Everyone stops at Royal Farms.”

Leder said current Baltimore County law requires that gas stations be located at least 100 feet from residential areas. The committee advocates to change that law to 500-1,500 feet, as is regulated in other counties, he said.

Leder said “hundreds of families” have already signed petitions produced by the committee opposing the gas station plan.

He said some individuals in the community have expressed support for Royal Farms’ plan because of the general lack of gas stations in the area.

“Let them have it in their own backyard,” Leder said. “We have a community here that’s growing and growing, with a lot of kids. We just don’t want it. I’m optimistic that we’ll succeed.”

The public sign-in for speaking at the Mar. 5 meeting will be at 5 p.m., with each person allotted two minutes. For information about an online petition protesting the gas station plan, visit https://tinyurl.com/wg32fqg.

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