SEABROOK – In a meeting on Sept. 16, the Hyattsville City Council discussed many projects, including a redesign of a Sunoco gas station and a bus stop improvement plan as part of a larger plan for the county. Each of these projects received pushback from councilmembers.
The owner of the gas station, which has existed on that property since 1961, has proposed a redesign of the site that would double the number of gas pumps and replace the current convenience store with a two-story commercial building.
The gas station would also include a large mural integrated into the building and a commissioned statue where the standalone ATM currently sits. But while the owner expected five modifications to the site plan, the county believes that it would actually require 32.
Jim Chandler, the assistant city administrator, requested that the redesign not be voted on until the next meeting, given concerns over how the design might affect pedestrian traffic. The gas station, which sits along MD 410 and Belfast Road, would possibly expect pedestrians to walk through traffic that would not exist without the proposed access cuts.
“I don’t expect our recommendations will change radically,” Chandler said. “It’s a matter of confirming that there is a way for service vehicles to access the site without conflict (with pedestrian traffic).”
“Pedestrians are our top priority,” Chandler added.
The assistant city administrator was met with strong disagreement by the site’s owners, NSR Properties.
“This is nothing short of a denial,” said the NSR Properties spokesperson, claiming that any redesign that does not keep their requested modifications for its access roads would make it impossible for trucks to access the gas station.
Ultimately, the council felt it best that the redesign is voted on at a later time, with NSR Properties returning with a plan after further consultation with the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission.
“Our intent and our desire are not to handcuff or restrict the business owner from being able to contribute to this community,” said Mayor Candace Hollingsworth. “But we do want to make sure we have willing participation on both sides to the table.”
The state also gave the county a grant this year to improve the bus stops along county routes. The plan and grant allow for more accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The plan calls for sidewalks to be widened for better foot traffic and for there to be paved space just up against curbs so that students do not stand on the grass. Current plans would improve stops on 42nd Avenue and the Queensbury Road corridors.
As sidewalks widened, Hal Metzler, the project manager, admitted that the landscaping would cut into existing yards and properties on 42nd Avenue, but determined that it would be within the “right of way.”
“It’s very important, particularly if there’s going to be work going on in neighborhoods,” Tracey Douglas, the city administrator, said. “We are going to work closely with the county to inform us before they begin and make sure we are comfortable…and relay that message to the community.”
The plan was not voted on but instead presented in consideration as a future action item for the council.