Perrysburg pauses new car wash facilities in city

PERRYSBURG — City council has placed a moratorium on new car wash facilities, in response to plans to place one at the location of the former Social Gastropub restaurant.

The resolution declaring the moratorium until Dec. 31, 2024 passed council, 4-2, at Tuesday’s meeting, with Jonathan Smith and Kevin Fuller voting against the measure.

Jonathan Smith, Kevin Fuller, Jan Materni and Mark Weber voted in favor of it. Cory Kuhlman was absent.

The resolution came out of the planning and zoning committee with the two-year moratorium recommended. The resolution notes that there are already seven car wash facilities within the city and another five within a 1-mile radius of the city.

The resolution states that “the city is concerned that any additional car wash facilities may over-serve the community and cause one or more car wash facilities to go out of business, thereby leaving a prime piece of property vacant and unable to be easily repurposed.”

Social Gastropub was determined to be a total loss after a fire on June 23, and the property continues to remain vacant. The property is on the east side of Dixie Highway, across from the Town Center at Levis Commons.

Fuller asked if there are hazardous materials associated with a car wash, which might be comparable to a gas station.

Planning and zoning committee chair Tim McCarthy said that if a car wash were sold, and it was to continue to be a car wash, the zoning would continue.

Brody Walters, planning and zoning administrator, addressed the potentially hazardous nature of a car wash, if a business came in and repurposed the land after a car wash had been there.

“There certainly can be. Anytime you are dealing with automotive fluids and things like that, washing undercarriages of vehicles, cars have, as you walk through parking lots, you see oil drips and fuel leaks, and things like that,” Walters said. “They are certainly not desirable, but I would not put them on the same level as gas stations.”

He added that there are steps that can be taken, as recommended by the public utilities department, to deal with some of those issues.

Smith asked how a decision would be made to determine what would be too many car washes.

Walters said it was a matter of opinion.

“Our opinion is that there is a significant amount of car washes and they add value to the city overall, beyond a certain point,” Walters said. “The biggest turnoff for us was that this would be right at the front door of Levis Commons.”

The site is considered to be very attractive, “and useful to the public,” as a restaurant that offered a “unique dining experience,” according to Walters.

He said that there is also a current popular trend of “get-rich” ideas with car washes. Past car wash locations were referenced that had gone out of business and remained vacant for long periods of time.

In this case, Walters said the inquiry was made by an out-of-state business that was interested in purchasing the property. The submitted plan was not one that he was comfortable with.

“They had all the exposed vacuum cleaners, 25 or 30. I’ve never seen 25 or 30 people vacuum their cars at the same time. He didn’t put any thought into what’s going on around this location. He didn’t consult the zoning code to actually design this. It was just kind of an aerial boxes on a piece of paper,” Walters said. “The drive isles were very strange. It was far from ideal.”

Smith asked for suggestions for options other than a moratorium.

Walters said that the land use chart could be modified.

Mayor Tom Mackin weighed in, saying that the zoning code is being revisited this year.

Perrysburg resident Rick Ruffner said government should stay out of private business.

“I have so many issues with this. “ Ruffner said. “Private business is about who builds a better mousetrap. Government getting involved in private business, saying who can regulate, who can come and who can’t, is just, I think it’s out of your realm.”

He compared the situation with that of restaurants that can’t find employees, suggesting that it would be similar to putting a moratorium on new restaurants opening.

“If another ice cream store opens up that’s better than mine, and puts me out of business, that’s life,” Ruffner said.

In other business, council also approved an update to the city credit card policy.

An agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for sign installation of U.S. Bicycle Route signage was also approved.