Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Gaithersburg Mayor & Council pave way for new Sheetz, Aldi stores at Walnut Hill with annexation vote

A new Sheetz convenience store and gas station, and a new Aldi supermarket, will soon be constructed at the Walnut Hill Shopping Center at 16529 S. Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg, after the city's mayor and council voted unanimously to annex the retail property into the city limits last night. Several councilmembers expressed their optimism and excitement about revitalizing the shopping center, which has suffered a drop in customer traffic since anchor tenant Weis Markets closed in 2020. Walnut Hill's owners have said the revenue from a Sheetz store is needed to finance the property improvements Aldi requires, and the more business-friendly zoning of the City of Gaithersburg was needed to allow the Sheetz.

Concerns about the proximity of the proposed Sheetz to the just-opened Sheetz at MD 355 and Montgomery Village Avenue were lessened, after the business model of the convenience store chain was clarified to city officials. Those who travel the highways in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and - more recently - Maryland are familiar with passing multiple Sheetz, Wawa, Royal Farms, Dash-In, etc. stores along the way.

The mayor and council voted unanimously at the end of last night's meeting to approve both agenda items related to the annexation of the shopping center, which now becomes part of the city. They approved the formal annexation petition, as well as a separate resolution that authorizes the City Manager to negotiate an annexation agreement with the owners of Walnut Hill, and of a vacant lot at 8939 Westland Drive.

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