Chesterton Tribune

 

 

New plans for car wash win over county BZA

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday agreed with Luke Oil on the latest plans to construct a car wash facility at the fueling station on the corner of Meridian Road and U.S. 6 in Liberty Township.

After tabling the case last month, the board voted unanimously 5-0 in favor of a variance in a moderate commercially zoned area.

“I like these plans a lot better than what you had last time,” BZA member Marvin Brickner told Luke’s construction manager Mike Zell.

The board previously objected to earlier plans that would have placed the car wash on the south side of the property next to U.S. 6, prompting concerns that lines for the car wash would cause problems with traffic flow on the highway.

According to the plans presented Wednesday there will be entrance/exits on Meridian Road and U.S. 6, which will meet the requirements of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Zell said this parcel will have more space than its Valparaiso and Portage locations which have only about an acre. The U.S. 6 location has 3.5 acres allowing the buildings and gas pumps to be spread out. A roughly 4,000 sq. ft. convenience store will be 66 feet away from the gas pumps as opposed to 50 feet. The pumps will be spaced at 30 feet from each other instead of 25 feet.

“We have a lot of space. There is going to be a lot of flow,” said Zell.

Luke will also add 12 feet of more green space between it and the U.S. 6 entrance, making the total amount about 40 feet. The curb cut out will be 175 feet, 25 feet more than what is required by INDOT, Zell said.

As for the concerns regarding traffic to U.S. 6, Zell said the chance of any backup would be nearly “nil.” He said the company has never had that problem at its Valparaiso or Portage locations and the U.S. 6 location should have about 15 percent less traffic given that it is in a primarily residential area.

“It’s highly unlikely that would ever be a concern,” Zell said.

There will also be an attendant on duty for the car wash and two will be on call in case business picks up to direct traffic, he said.

Automobiles would be directed in conveyer belt fashion along a constantly moving track with a vehicle exiting nearly every 30 seconds, Zell said.

Board member Tim Cole said he would like it if signage could be put up to restrict car lines beyond a certain point. Zell said that would agreeable since similar signage is posted at Luke’s current car wash fleet.

Member Rick Burns made signage part of his motion and said that if traffic ever did create issues, Luke Oil would need to discuss the matter with the BZA. Zell said he would be happy to discuss solutions.

“That’s common sense. If there is a problem we will need to address it,” said Zell.

Next the plans will be looked at by the County’s Development Review Committee. Zell said the look of the car wash will match that of the convenience store with brick siding and aluminum windows.

Also on Wednesday, the board voted 5-0 to approve continuing a variance allowing Jeff Jirtle of 252 West U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp. to operate a landscaping and excavating business and a contractor’s store yard under the condition that the variance be opened back up for a public hearing when it is up for vote again.

 

Posted 4/18/2013