Friday, September 22, 2023

Williamsburg Planning Commission Denies Permit for Car Wash

(WYDaily/Ben Mackin)

WILLIAMSBURG — The City of Williamsburg Planning Commission held a meeting on March 16 at 3:30 p.m. at the Stryker Center.

On the agenda were two consent agenda items that the Planning Commission members unanimously voted to approve. Additionally, there were also two public hearings scheduled for the meeting.

Consent Agenda Items

One of the consent agenda items, SPR#22-004, was a request for the council to approve the site plan of a Bus Shelter/Restroom at 101 South Henry Street. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) requested the site plan approval to construct a bus shelter and a 296 square foot addition to the existing public restroom building at 101 South Henry Street. The Site Plan review committee previously reviewed the plans on February 16, 2022, and recommended the site plan’s approval.

The second consent agenda item, SPR #21-010, was a site plan approval request. This request was made by Castle Development Partners (CWDP WB PE, LLC) for a site plan approval for 162 apartment units at 506 North Henry Street.

According to the items memorandum, “The 2/3 story apartment buildings have a footprint of 77,041 square feet and contains a total of 64 one-bedroom units, 98 two-bedroom units, pool and community building.”

Public Hearings

(Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg Planning Commission)

The first public hearing was the request for a special use permit to construct a new Tidal Wave Auto Spa.

After going to the City Architectural Review Board, City staff recommended to the Planning Commission to deny the special use permit.

“As this is a special use permit, harmony with the character of the adjacent properties and the surrounding neighborhood must be taken into consideration,” said City of Williamsburg Interim Planning and Codes Compliance Director Erin Burke in her briefing to the City Planning Commission. “According to the conceptual plan, the vacuum stalls are approximately 75 feet from the property line to the North and 90 feet from the property line to the west. The use of 22 vacuums, a tunnel car wash with interior blowers, and idling cars awaiting service is not in harmony with the adjacent residential uses due to the noise and intensity of the use of the car wash. Staff recommends denial of PCR#22-001: a special use permit to construct and operate a carwash at 1800 Richmond road as it is a use that is not in harmony with the character of adjacent properties and surrounding neighborhoods.”

The special use permit process is to assure that the City doesn’t completely rule out every option for a specific piece of land. However, the big concern for locating the car wash on Richmond Road was its proximity to the neighboring residential areas.

Planning Commission Member Marcia Liebel also listed traffic as another key concern for the City.

“The presentation that we received at another meeting talked about the number of cars that could go through this car wash on a per hour basis. It was significant,” said Liebl in her comments to the Planning Commission. “It seems to me that’s too much to be close to a residential neighborhood. The potential for noise I’ve raised several times, and then the potential for traffic even on Richmond road during peak hours. If the car wash was is in fact experiencing the type of activity that they promise with their technology. It could increase the traffic on Richmond road rather significantly.”

The Commission motioned and unanimously voted to deny the special use permit.

PCR#22-004 was a request of Williamsburg-James City County (WJCC) Public Schools for a special use permit to continue the use of the two existing learning cottages at Matthew Whaley Elementary School through July 2026.

There were no questions for the applicants.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of PCR #22-004.

The City of Williamsburg Planning Commission has a work session scheduled for March 23, 2022.

More information on this meeting’s agenda items can be found on the City of Williamsburg Civic website.

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