Zoning variances denied for planned car wash in Hermitage

Sep. 9—HERMITAGE — A planned car wash may be delayed after the Hermitage Zoning Hearing Board denied three requested variances.

A pair of representatives from GreenHeart Companies, of Boardman, Ohio, presented their plans Wednesday for a car wash to be built at 920 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage. The site is south of Flipside Records and Collectibles and just down the road from Walmart.

However, the planned car wash asked for three variances, or exceptions to the city's zoning laws.

The requested variances included a side yard setback of 10 feet instead of the required 20 feet; a buffer yard along the southern property line of 22 feet instead of 50 feet; and six parking spaces and stacking for 16 cars, instead of 15 parking spaces, according to a legal notice.

Brian Angelilli, one of the GreenHeart representatives, said the planned car wash was a "first-class building" and that there would be no employees who would need parking spaces, aside from an occasional maintenance worker.

When the board's solicitor, Roger Shaffer, asked who owned the property owner, the developers responded that it was a doctor through a limited-liability corporation, although they could not remember the company's or the doctor's exact names.

Although the developers offered to call the doctor or present documents with the LLC's information to the board members at a later date, Shaffer responded that any evidence, including the owner, had to be presented in person Wednesday evening.

According to the Mercer County online tax records as of Thursday, the property is owned by Hercules Car Wash Inc., of Warren, Ohio, which bought it April 4 for $380,000.

A sign small sign at the property says "Mr. Clean Auto Wash" was coming soon.

There was a discrepancy regarding the lot's size, according to the information from the developers and the city. While the developers said the lot was 142 feet wide and 350 feet deep, Hermitage city Solicitor Brett Stedman said city records indicated the lot was about 150 feet wide and 400 feet deep.

Shaffer asked how the developers had a smaller lot size, and suggested their findings may be more recent compared to older records on file at the city.

However, the developers were unable to provide any documents Wednesday that could offer an explanation.

Stedman presented other concerns about the requested variances, including the potential for cars to stack onto North Hermitage Road and the lack of parking spaces.

The developers responded to some of the concerns, noting more spaces could be added, as necessary, in a setback area on the property.

The property to the south of 920 N. Hermitage Road was also discussed.

Stedman said that, since the bordering property includes a house, the buffer area between the two properties would need a fence and row of trees, which the developers said was "not a problem."

The developers said they had not met with the bordering property's residents, but understood it was zoned for commercial use.

Tyler Hudson, of the Hudson Companies and the property's owner, was present for the meeting, along with his legal counsel Cezanne Harrer.

Hudson said there was a residence on the property that was in use, and that he had a residential lease.

Shaffer said to the developers that, although the property was now zoned commercial, the residence is allowed since it qualifies as a pre-existing, lawful use.

Hudson argued against the requested variances, saying that, if approved, it would make the car wash "very impactful" toward the neighboring properties and the community.

Hermitage Assistant Planning Director Kristina Thomas was also present for the meeting and was interviewed by Stedman.

Thomas said another car wash was previously located at 902 N. Hermitage Road, but it had since been demolished.

Other things, including a car wash, could be built within the confines of the property and denying the variances would not create unnecessary hardships for the developers, Thomas said.

The variances were ultimately denied by the zoning hearing board, whose three members unanimously voted "no" for each variance.

Following the vote, Shaffer said the board will prepare a written decision within 45 days.

Once the final board member signs off on the decision, a 30-day appeal period would be triggered, allowing the developers to challenge the board's decision, he said.

When asked by the GreenHeart representatives if the board's vote meant the end of the entire project or just the requested variances, Shaffer responded the project itself was not denied.

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