The Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals last week Thursday, July 11, voted to close the hearing on a car wash on Teaticket Highway and instructed the zoning administrator to draft a positive decision despite concerns raised by some members.
The applicant, Green Ocean Car Wash LLC, intends to raze the existing nonconforming structure and replace it with a conforming car wash.
Kevin P. Klauer represented Wallace C. Kendall, the manager of Green Ocean Car Wash, at the hearing. He described the queuing on site as “more than adequate.” Lanes loop around the principle structure on the site, feeding cars into the automatic car wash and directing them off site.
The site features two bail-out options for drivers who do not want to proceed through the car wash. The plans also show a new curb cut off Route 28 “to allow for better flow on and off the site,” Mr. Klauer said.
The proposed changes to the site would reduce lot coverage by parking, paving, and structures from 81 percent to 70 percent.
The previous use of the site, a fast food restaurant, generated about 26 trips per hour, or 13 cars on site per hour, according to the ITE trip generation manual. The new use will generate about 28 trips per hour, or 14 cars, according to an addendum to the special permit application from Green Ocean Car Wash LLC.
“Industry studies reflect that in New England summer and fall are the two slowest times of the year for car washes,” the addendum reads.
Green Ocean Car Wash LLC made changes to site plans to account for concerns raised by members of the zoning board of appeals at the last hearing on the project. The additional, nonvacuum parking spot was moved from the end of the row of vacuums, toward Route 28, to the start of the row of vacuums toward the back of the site. The change may help with vacuum queuing, Mr. Klauer said. The applicant also added a bike rack.
“This proposal is a significant improvement to the site, replacing a dilapidated nonconforming structure with an attractive, conforming, energy-conscious building,” Mr. Klauer said. The plans show solar panels mounted on the roof of the structure.
Robert Dugan, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, expressed concern that the loading zone for the building was not wide enough for vehicles to conform with zoning regulations. The plans show a nine-foot wide zone. Matthew C. Costa, president of Cape and Islands Engineering, said the Falmouth Engineering Department had cleared the width.
Mr. Klauer added that, according to local regulations, a 14-foot loading zone is only required when the structures on the site need five or more parking spaces. The site plans, as presented, only required three spaces, Mr. Klauer said.
Mr. Dugan also questioned the turning radius for vehicles exiting the car wash. After the last board hearing the applicant widened the radius by shrinking a dividing line between the exiting traffic and the queuing traffic for the entrance of the car wash.
“So let’s say somebody isn’t paying attention. With that striping in the back there’s nothing that would stop them from going into the lane of oncoming traffic,” Mr. Dugan said.
Mr. Costa countered that the lane could not be considered “oncoming traffic.” The lane would consist of stacked cars waiting for the cash wash.
Mr. Dugan asked if Mr. Costa would be amendable to adding stationary bollards between the lanes. Mr. Costa said the bollards would cause drivers to make even tighter turns for fear of hitting them. Striping would allow for more flexibility, he said. Mr. Costa added that the Falmouth Fire Department had cleared the turning radius as sufficient for the site.
The Falmouth Planning Board approved the site plan at the end of June.
The Zoning Board of Appeals voted to close the hearing and instructed the zoning administrator, Noreen Stockman, to draft a decision.
During a discussion of possible findings and conditions for the draft decision, members of the board agreed to wait on issuing findings concerning the width of the loading zone.
Green Ocean Car Wash will still need additional approvals after securing a decision from the Zoning Board of Appeals. At the hearing, Mr. Klauer said the applicant will need to seek a wastewater flow neutral variance from the board of selectmen after they clear zoning and planning.