Crestwood P&Z recommends ordinances prohibiting car washes, storage facilities

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Photo by Erin Achenbach

The BriteWorX location in Columbia, Illinois.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Crestwood Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of amendments to the city’s municipal code, including an ordinance prohibiting car washes in certain zoning districts, and storage and warehousing facilities.

The commission voted unanimously at its Nov. 2 meeting to recommend prohibiting car washes and storage and warehousing facilities in areas zoned for C-1 local business.

Car washes are currently a conditional allowed use in the C-1 and PD-C planned development-commercial districts; the recommended ordinance would remove car washes from the conditional uses in those districts and authorize them as a permitted use in the M-1 light industrial district and PD-M planned development-manufacturing districts.

Self-storage facilities are also allowed as a conditional allowed use in C-1 and PD-C districts; the recommended ordinance would prohibit self-storage facilities in those zoning districts and only allow them as permitted uses in the M-1 and PD-M district.

“There’s been a high proliferation of new car washes and self-storage facilities around the country and throughout St. Louis County. City officials have gotten hints or have had conversations with parties interested in putting in new car washes or self-storage facilities in some of our attractive redevelopment sites on Watson and that kind of introduced a conversation … if that would really meet our comprehensive code,” City Planner Danny Jendusa said. “We wanted to look at making it more difficult to put car washes or self-storage facilities on Watson.”

The city’s comprehensive plan is focused on making the Watson corridor more “active, vibrant and pedestrian-friendly,” and motor vehicle-oriented businesses go against that, according to city staff.

“They cannot be easily designed or operated in a manner that encourages pedestrian activity,” Jendusa said.

Staff also recommended creating a new definition in the city code, defining a car wash establishment as “a facility primarily for the purpose of cleaning, washing, and/or waxing motor vehicles, such as passenger cars, trucks, and vans, and trailers, either by mechanical equipment with vehicles on a self-propelled wash rack, or where a patron washes a vehicle with a high-powered hose in a service bay.”

“It would be a pretty comprehensive definition for car washes that we would pull it out and separate it from our other vehicle repair, service-type facilities which would remain as a conditional use in the C-1 district,” Jendusa said.

“We feel that because we’ve had some interest from developers about putting new locations on Watson, we do feel that time is a little bit of the essence to make this change so we will not be faced with potential legal issues if we were to recommend denial of those,” Jendusa added. Any present car washes or self-storage facilities on Watson would be unaffected and deemed legally non-conforming and allowed to continue operating. 

In 2019, the Crestwood Board of Aldermen twice rejected a proposal for a BriteWorX car wash at 9846 Watson Road, with aldermen and residents expressing that they wished to wait and see what would happen with the former Crestwood mall property before approving a car wash. BriteWorX subsequently filed a lawsuit in 2020 against the city for the denial and as part of a settlement agreement, the city had to review the car wash’s request for a conditional use permit. That request was ultimately passed by the board.

“I want to go on record to say that I fully support these amendments. I feel that this helps to operationalize our comprehensive plan. I think that this energizes and engages our existing commercial areas by promoting more active retail uses rather than these other uses,” Commissioner Andrew Meyerkord said.

The commission unanimously recommended approval of the amendments to the Board of Aldermen. The board was scheduled to meet Nov. 22 — after The Call went to press.