Concerns grow over proposed car wash in Greenwood

1 Concerns grow over proposed car wash in Greenwood
This concept plan shows the most recent rendering for Kopetsky Auto Wash’s planned location on the former Lotus Garden site on the southside of Greenwood.

Planned construction of a car wash at the former site of a popular Greenwood restaurant now has city officials asking whether the location is a good fit.

Lotus Garden, a decades-old Chinese restaurant off U.S. 31 on Greenwood’s southside, closed its doors July 1, after the owner of the building sold the property at 49 Mercator Drive to Kopetsky Auto Wash. The company is planning to tear down the building and construct its second location sometime next year.

The southside car wash would be Kopetsky’s second Greenwood location, and would be a near replica of its State Road 135 facility, according to construction plans.

CrossRoad Engineers, a firm representing Kopetsky, has requested several waivers from the city, including two submitted last month to the Greenwood Board of Public Works and Safety. The waivers, if approved, would address several issues related to stormwater runoff. Issues include stormwater release rates, stormwater detention and pavement deicing — how salt treatments during winter may affect the pavement.

Kopetsky is having a hard time following the city’s stormwater ordinances due to the land on the site being nearly impossible for water to get through due to the amount of pavement that is already there. Engineers have had to reduce the amount of impermeable area and the release rate of water runoff during significant rain events, said Greg Ilko, an engineer representing Kopetsky.

Greenwood requires a release rate of 0.1 cubic foot per second per acre of development for an up to 10-year storm event, and requires 0.3 cubic feet per second per acre for an 11-to-100-year storm, post-development, according to city documents. Release rates are the amount of stormwater release from a stormwater control facility at a specific moment in time.

There is a lack of underground space at the site, and the developer says they are not able to provide the amount of underground detention that is required. For the developer to build an underground stormwater detention system that would work for a car wash, they would have to raise the site by more than two feet, Ilko said.

Raising the site could cause issues down the line, as the developer can only raise the site so much before the constructability of the site would be significantly impeded, he said.

“We’re at a point where the ordinance release rates make this site nearly undevelopable — well, it makes it undevelopable,” Ilko said.

The challenges do not end there. By raising the site, it would create steep slopes from the raised area down to where the drainage would connect to Greenwood’s stormwater system. Also, if Kopetsky does not get a waiver for the required release rates, it would not have enough room to provide a chamber to hold all the runoff, he said.

If the chamber was not built, or if a chamber was built with not enough space, the water would have nowhere to go during a significant rain event, which could lead to flooding, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We’re not looking to simply get rid of detention altogether. We’re simply looking for a modification of allowable release rates,” Ilko said.

Kopetsky says they will continue to follow other measures the city requires, including detention and water quality standards, he said.

At the last meeting Sept. 20, Kopetsky had intended to ask for a continuance until the board’s meeting today. However, the information needed for the continuance had not been submitted before the meeting, Ilko said.

City officials had also asked the developer, prior to the meeting, to look into possibly connecting to a pipe system that runs east-to-west on the southside of the property. But the pipe system already connects to the manhole Kopetsky wanted to use, and would not help the developer meet the city’s detention requirements, he said.

Deputy Mayor Terry McLaughlin told the board during the Sept. 20 meeting he would love to see another Kopetsky location in Greenwood, but it sounds like the property is not fit for a car wash. The company has already received several waivers, and was asking for two more, he said.

Since Kopetsky first announced its interests in building on the Lotus Garden site, the engineer representing the developer has submitted more than eight waivers and variances to the city. The number of variances seems to be more than normal, McLaughlin said.

“It really sounds like this site does not fit this business, as much as I hate saying that,” he said.

Kopetsky is a great company that offers a great product, but McLaughlin is also concerned about the company’s engineering firm’s tardiness when it comes to submitting documents. Several documents that city officials had requested did not get submitted until about three hours before the Sept. 20 meeting, he said.

City officials are not the only ones with concerns. Since the development was first announced, those who live near the property have been vocal about their opposition to the car wash.

In June, six residents who live in the neighborhood behind the property came to a Greenwood Board of Zoning Appeals meeting to share their concerns. All of them were concerned about an increase in noise and traffic from the car wash, as Mercator Drive is the only access road in and out of the neighborhood.

The car wash would have space to line up at least 30 cars before spilling into traffic on Mercator Drive, and would have large vacuums that would be turned off at night, construction plans show.

Greenwood City Council member Ezra Hill, who represents that area of the city, told the board he likes the idea of another car wash, but the Lotus Garden property is the wrong place for it due to traffic. Hill asked the board to reject the variance requests. The city does not necessarily have a say in what businesses can go where, unless they need a rezone or variance approved, board officials said at the time.

A traffic study was commissioned at Kopetsky’s request to address the traffic concerns. The study found that a car wash would not dangerously impact traffic in the area, and would not lead to a significantly higher amount of noise in the area, according to Findings of Fact adopted by the board of zoning appeals in June.

Since then, nearby residents have criticized the city council and mayor’s office for not stopping variances that were approved by the board. However, both the city council and mayor are prohibited by state law from interfering with the deliberations, city attorney Shawna Koons said.

Whenever there is a matter pending before the board of zoning appeals, no one, including elected officials, are allowed to communicate with board members before a hearing with the intent to influence their actions on matters pending before the board. The only exception is the written staff report that is delivered to the board, which establishes facts or opinions relating to a matter before them. The document can be filed less than five days before a hearing, Koons said.

At a July meeting, Kopetsky told residents they had changed their design plans so the entrance and exit will no longer have a right turn lane, said John Mandabach, a business development executive at Kopetsky.

Kopetsky representatives say the site does not have any issues, despite what was discussed during the last board of works meeting.

The board agreed to give Kopetsky a continuance, and will discuss the waiver requests again at its meeting today.

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