Progress of car wash project trek through city procedures

Thursday, February 8, 2024
New Greencastle Board of Zoning Appeals members (from left) Veronica Pejril, Kevin Verhoff and John Phillips are sworn in Tuesday night by Mayor Lynda Dunbar prior to the monthly BZA meeting at City Hall. They join holdover members Paul Champion and Jon Clark on a full five-member Zoning Board for the first time in at least two years.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

Wash ... rinse ... repeat.

That can be a productive cleaning strategy for everything from your laundry to your kitchen dishes to the local car wash.

And that’s the spin cycle the Tangent Car Wash Co. folks have been caught in since they first proposed building a facility northwest of the Walmart Distribution Center at Warren Drive and State Road 240 on Greencastle’s East Side.

Attorney Eddie Felling, representing the petitioners asking for three development standard variances for the 1.16-ace site at the southeast corner of the intersection, put the progress in perspective.

“We’ve been through Tech Review (Committee), the Plan Commission, old City Council and new City Council, which was kind of interesting, and now this,” Felling explained. “We’ve been successful throughout the process.”

The project received a favorable recommendation from the Plan Commission in November to rezone the property from General Industrial to General Business 2, an outcome that then required two ordinance approvals for rezoning adoption by the City Council, the first with the old Council in December, followed by the new group in January.

That brought Felling and owner Jud Smith, whose father had the former Dallas Smith business in Greencastle for a number of years, to Tuesday night and three variance requests.

The petitioners were unanimously granted development standards variances to:

• Reduce required parking spaces from 24 to eight in the GB2 District.

• Reduce a required landscape buffer setback from 20 feet to zero feet and a tree-planting requirement.

• Reduce the front-yard setback on a principal arterial street from 50 feet to 32 feet in a GB2 District.

Addressing the parking code request, Felling noted that the facility is a “tunnel car wash where the idea is to get traffic in and get traffic out.” Probably no more than four vehicles would be present there at one time, he noted.

As far as the buffer requirement, Felling suggested ”from a rational standpoint, the only benefactor would be Walmart Distribution” in requiring a barrier between the general business and industrial zoning districts.

With respect to the front setback, that will reduce the proximity of the car wash to the Peoples Pathway portion along State Road 240 from 52 to 32 feet. While there are no sight concerns along there, partially due to the slanted nature of the lot in question, Felling said his client will work to create a buffer there.

“Frankly, the corner doesn’t look very nice,” the attorney said. “I’ll guarantee my client, at the end of the day, is going to make that corner much nicer than it is today.”

After addressing that drainage from the site will go east and south, while stormwater and sewer will be directed west and south along the highway, Smith noted that the retainage tank for reclaimed water has been moved away from the pathway.

He told the BZA 85 to 90 percent of the water used by the car wash will be recycled. He noted that using 200 cars per day coming through the facility, only 500 gallons of water -- or two to three gallons per car -- would end up in the sewer.

Smith said his family has been building car washes since the 1970s and “the intent has always been to beautify the site and build an attractive, welcoming environment.”

“We want to make it a unique experience and not just put up a car wash,” Smith said. “I think it’s a beautiful site for this and what we’re trying to achieve.”

He also said retaining walls will be built at the entrance and exit of the car wash in case vehicles somehow slip into gear unexpectedly.

“All the traffic flows and never backs up,” Smith noted of the site plan. “It’s a real nice, smooth operation in that way.”

Meanwhile, Felling reminded the BZA that ingress and egress to the property is onto Warren Drive where there is an existing curb cut.

The intersection there could warrant a stoplight some day, Felling suggested.

City Attorney Laurie Hardwick, however, isn’t so sure about that on what is considered a limited-access highway by the state and nearly took an act of congress to allow the stoplight near the school complex.

“It’s a different process,” Hardwick said, noting that studies would need to be done and a certain volume of traffic required before serious consideration is given.

With the three variance requests unanimously approved upon motions by new member Keith Verhoff (twice) and Paul Champion, Smith told the Banner Graphic he expects the facility to open by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, with the swearing in of new members Veronica Pejril, John Phillips (a former alternate) and Verhoff, the BZA has been restored to a full five-member board for the first time in at least two years.

“For the first time in a while,” City Planner Scott Zimmerman said.

“The first time since I’ve been on the board,” offered Jon Clark, one of the two holdover BZA members along with Champion.

However, that will soon change, Mayor Lynda Dunbar advised, with Clark having to leave the board because he is moving outside city limits.

In the evening’s only other business, Pejril was elected president of the BZA with Champion as vice president. No secretary was appointed.

The board will next meet in regular session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at City Hall.

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