Crestwood rejects car wash on Watson Road

By Erin Achenbach 
Staff Reporter
eachenbach@callnewspapers.com

After a marathon public hearing, the Crestwood Board of Aldermen rejected a car wash proposed for Watson Road March 26, but also voted to reconsider at its meeting next week.

The board held two public hearings on the BriteWorX car wash proposed for 9846 Watson Road, one for a conditional-use permit, or CUP, and a site plan for BriteWorX to demolish the existing building at the site, formerly a Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, to construct the facilities. The restaurant has sat vacant for over a year.

BriteWorX is a rain-tunnel, self-service style car wash which uses a conveyor system to pull vehicles through the wash.

In plans submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, developers planned to add a second entrance off Watson Road to serve as the primary entrance to the car wash. Plans also include 24 free self-service vacuum stalls.

The board next meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 at City Hall, 1 Detjen Drive.

At the March 6 Planning and Zoning meeting, the commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the board deny the CUP because of the noise the car wash could produce. Commissioners also believe that the car wash does not comply with the city’s comprehensive plan. One commissioner was worried that it would be impossible to repurpose the proposed building and that “it would exist as a car wash in perpetuity,” City Planner Adam Jones wrote in a memo to the board.

The commission also recommended the board deny a waiver to operate the car wash beyond 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Despite the Planning and Zoning Commission rejection, Jones said he felt the location was suitable for a car wash, but also told the board he saw pros and cons.

“If you were going to put a car wash anywhere in Crestwood, this is a good spot,” he said during the public hearing. “But in doing so, we will lose any entertainment-style use. And all that residents say they want are restaurants.”

Most of the aldermen’s questions during the public hearing focused on noise from the vacuums and the traffic impact on Watson Road.

Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan was concerned that the noise from the vacuums would bother nearby residents. But Jones said a noise study conducted by the applicant fell within the county’s allowed parameters.

Former Mayor Gregg Roby testified against the car wash, contending that it’s contrary to the city’s comprehensive plan, the development of which he oversaw as mayor.

“With the mall not being here now and having lost several other businesses, I think that the use of this property for that purpose is kind of defeating the overall goal and objective of our community,” said Roby, who also pointed out that there were nearby car washes, like General Grant Car Wash & Detail Center also located on Watson, albeit in other municipalities. “I guess I’m concerned we got a business coming in that’s going to tear down a perfectly usable building that could very well… be occupied… by some other type of business that will complement the new development at the mall. As a result, I think that this board should be patient… and give the developer of the mall the opportunity to bring their proposal forward.”

Sales tax would not be generated from the car wash, and the real-estate value of the property would also decline if it was built, Roby said.

Robert “Bo” Proffitt, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and one of the three commission members to vote in favor of the car wash, testified in defense of the proposal.

“I work in Hazelwood … near the other (BriteWorX) location. I actually go by that location quite often. I’ve been there. I use the car wash. I do believe it is a superior car wash. I think if we brought it to Crestwood, it would be a draw for other communities just because the car wash itself provides easy access… It offers more than other automatic car washes,” said Proffitt. “It certainly is not a Grant’s Car Wash, which is full-service, but as you may have noticed, there’s been lines there 20 to 25 cars long, and the last time I was there I actually left. I wasn’t going to wait that long… I do think there’s capacity in Crestwood for another car wash.”

The ordinance to grant the CUP failed 4 -3. Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding, Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter and Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy voted for the ordinance, while Duncan, Ward 3 Aldermen Greg Hall and Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman Ismaine Ayouaz voted it down.

Despite the denial to grant the CUP, the ordinance approving BriteWorX’s site plan passed 5-2. Breeding, Duncan, Hall, Stadter and Kennedy voted in favor while Miguel and Ayouaz voted against it.

A motion was made and passed to reconsider the application for the CUP at the April 9 board meeting.

While the postponement means that there is still the possibility for the car wash, BriteWorX representatives told the board their due diligence period with the granting entity Wallis Companies ends on April 2 and if an extension is not granted by Wallis officials, the contract will be terminated.

In the meantime, Mayor Grant Mabie encouraged aldermen to check out BriteWorX ’s other locations in the region, one in Florissant and one in Columbia, Illinois.