Ashton CVS meeting addresses some issues; traffic concerns remain -- Gazette.Net


Nearby seem generally OK with having a CVS pharmacy in Ashton, but traffic questions remain.

CVS is proposing a 12,900-square-foot building on the site of the former Kimball’s Service Center, at the northeast corner of Ashton Road (Md. 108) and New Hampshire Avenue.

There also would be an improved pedestrian area, sidewalks, landscaping, and stormwater management.

At a community meeting at the Sandy Spring Museum on April 23, representatives of CVS presented renderings of what the store would look like and how the site would be developed.

Residents were pleased to learn that some of the concerns expressed at earlier, informal meetings with store officials were heard and addressed.

“We heard loud and clear to move the building closer to the street, that the building should reflect the character of the community, that there should be a green area in front, and pedestrian connections to other properties in the area,” said attorney Stacy P. Silber of the law firm Lerch, Early & Brewer, representing CVS. “A typical CVS prototype store would not be appropriate here and was never considered.”

CVS representatives worked with local architect Miche Booz and came up with an exterior design that is similar to the nearby Christopher’s Hardware store, with cupolas, clapboard siding, and a front porch.

The store will be smaller than a typical CVS, but comparable in size to the Olney store.

Although most CVS locations have two drive-thru lanes, this store would have one.

Residents expressed concern about the added traffic to the intersection, since no additional road improvements are required as part of the project.

A traffic engineer said he recently completed a traffic study with results similar to a study conducted by the State Highway Administration in 2012.

Both independent studies showed that traffic is down at that intersection, likely due to the east-west traffic now traveling on the Intercounty Connector.

From westbound Md. 108, access to the store will be right turn in, right turn out. Other traffic will enter and exit from New Hampshire Avenue.

Residents asked if a right turn could be installed on northbound New Hampshire at the store entrance. Officials responded that after hearing the concerns, they would study it further.

Tom Christopher, owner of Christopher’s Hardware, said he remains apprehensive about the handling of traffic.

“They’ve made the architectural efforts to make sure it’s not your cookie cutter CVS store, but it’s still a 12,000-square-foot store, and in order to support the overhead, there will be a lot of traffic coming in and out,” he said.

Christopher’s business was formerly in the shopping center on the northwest corner of the intersection. He said he saw a fair share of accidents there.

He said he was told that 35 percent of the traffic is expected to come from the west (Olney), which means those vehicles will be turning left onto New Hampshire Avenue, where there is no left-turn light.

“That’s a real concern of mine,” he said.

Residents of the Ashton Knolls community, which backs up to the property, expressed concerns about traffic, lighting, and noise.

Store officials offered assurances that since the store hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., exterior lights, except for some security lighting, will be turned off. Loading could be scheduled during off-peak hours.

Silber said officials expect to submit the site plan and preliminary plan to the Park and Planning within the next few weeks. There will be a public hearing with further opportunity for public input, probably in the late summer or early fall.

Store officials said they expect the store to open in mid-2016.