By Matt Mackinder
Clarkston News Editor
INDEPENDENCE TWP. — After sitting vacant for several years, the old Big Boy restaurant site at 6440 Dixie Highway is in the planning stages of becoming a car wash.
The site plans were presented during a public hearing at the Dec. 14 regular meeting of the Independence Township Planning Commission.
“The existing building’s proposed to be removed and the entire site redeveloped as a car wash, which the township’s zoning ordinance says is a motor vehicle wash establishment,” said Megan Masson-Minock, of the Carlisle Wortman and Associates planning firm. “Something to note is that that is not an allowed use in the C3 district. It is an allowed use in one of the other districts that’s in the Dixie Highway Overlay District and so using the planned development option, you don’t have any use that’s in any one of those districts allowed underneath that process, so when you went to your zoning ordinance, I’m sure you saw that this is not an allowed use. It’s not listed in the zoning district and how is this going through? It’s because it’s part of the overlay and that’s really one of the reasons that it’s coming forward.”
Masson-Minock added that “we feel the removal of this longstanding, obsolete building and replacing with a new (building) is going to produce more open-space landscape areas and pedestrian amenities than what’s currently there.”
“If you look, the site’s almost completely covered with asphalt and they (CWP West LLC, the petitioner, of Tucson, Ariz., which has a documented history of owning and operating car washes in the United States) would be adding a significant amount of yards and green space,” said Masson-Minock. “In terms of land use transitions, which is the standard, the proposed car wash may increase the intensity of that site. You have a lot more cars coming and going with a car wash than often with a sit-down restaurant, but I would urge you to look at a whole realm of uses that are allowed in the underlying zoning district, but also in the overlay, and think about it in this particular area at this time. Also in terms of using innovative and creative site designs, the building that they’re putting forward is visually attractive and also they pushed it up to the road instead of the original concept we saw was at the rear. In terms of providing reasonable mitigation on internal and external circulation, again, this likely will generate a high traffic count. However, we feel like they’ve reasonably missed that circumstance by limiting it by eliminating a curb cut.
“There are no issues with area height, width, and setbacks. They meet all the standards.”
At the end of the hearing, the planning commission voted unanimously to grant special land use approval and conceptual site plan approval for the new car wash with comments of the board and consultants about runoff, drainage runoff, trash, lights, noise, and architecture to be taken into consideration by the petitioner.
PHOTO: The site of the planned car wash, 6440 Dixie Highway. Photo: Matt Mackinder