For the second time, Bedford's planning board granted a final site plan approval to a proposed Splash car wash in Bedford Hills on Tuesday. An earlier proposal for a car wash to be located at the development site, the comer of Bedford Road and Valerio Court, was approved in January of 2013, but was scaled back after a lawsuit. During the Tuesday meeting, the car wash proposal was approved with recommendations that there be minor changes to the landscaping to be planted on the property.
These changes would have developers plant more native vegetation that would attract pollinators instead of nonnative species. Mark Curtis, the owner of Splash, said he would be glad to take the recommendations. "Because they are native and have adapted over the years to the climate and natural conditions in our area, they also require a deal less maintenance then some of the more traditional fancy landscape plants that are out there, so the hope is that these will thrive even more," said planning chairwoman Deirdre Courtney-Batson.
The proposed Splash would have originally taken up more of the lot where a Carvel ice cream used to stand before it became demolished in preparation of construction last year. The first plan included an oil lube facility as well as two car wash tunnels. It needed a variance to work due to the property's zoning. A variance allows a property an exemption from a specific requirement of the town code. The lot is mostly commercially zoned, with a narrow residentially zoned section located on the parcel's southeast side. Developers planned to establish the business's parking lot adjacent to the residentially-zoned portion when in this case, all commercial operations had to be set back from the residential portion 25 feet, according to Bedford's code.
After the first car wash proposal was approved, Dino DeFeo, who lives off of Valerio Court, a small, privately owned road terminating in four homes and a approvals granted by the town.
She overturned the property's variance because she said it didn't meet two specific criteria in Bedford's town code. Specifically, she said developers failed to prove that the variance was necessary to provide the property's owners a reasonable financial return. She also said they failed to prove that the problem requiring the variance was not self-created.
Judge Zambelli's decision sent Splash's developers back to the planning stages and it was decided that the oil lube facility be removed from the site and the parking area become scaled back to fall completely within the property's commercial boundJ\ries. The smaller, second plan required no variances and the zoning board granted it a special permit to operate as a public garage last month.
At the Tuesday meeting, Mr. DeFeo argued that the car wash should be subject to regulations in Bedford's code that fall under a category titled "Automotive service stations and public gait should be subject to the regulations in the category even though the term "public garages" is not used throughout the body of the law. He said because the law section has a title including both automotive service stations and public garages, that the entire text applies to both types of businesses.
Members of the planning board and Bedford's attorney Joel Sachs disagreed with Mr. DeFeo's logic and said that the automotive service station restrictions under the law section do not apply to Splash.
Mr. Sachs said at the Tuesday meeting that he feels Mr. DeFeo's argument is a last-minute tactic to stall the project moving forward and that the planning board already made a decision about the matter back in 2011.
"It's all been hashed and rehashed previously by this board and by the zoning board and again, if this argument was really brought in good faith it could've been brought a long time ago to the Su reme Court or there could've really don't mean it to look that way.
I'm just trying to understand the issue myself," Mr. DeFeo said at the Tuesday meeting. "It's not that we agreed with the ruling previously, we just had stronger arguments previously. Specifically, Mr. DeFeo had been critical of the car wash's prqposed driveway, which has been steered to lead int'0 Valerio Court instead of Bedford Road. This has been done to comply with Bedford's comprehensive plan, which calls for a greener Bedford Road with. less curb cuts leading into it.
The positioning of the site's proposed septic is. also preventing the driveway from leading into Bedford Road. ., Calin Pop, another resident of Valerio Court, asked at the Tuesday meeting it were possible to compel the operators of Splash to plow Valerio Court of its snow in the winter, which he said is not being performed in a timely fashion. Ms. Courtney-Batson said in response that the board could not compel Splash to plow Valerio Court because it is a private road owned by the Martabano family. Members of the family at the, meeting said that snow clearing on the road was the responsibility of the First Niagara Bank, which also leads into the. dead-end street. Ms. Courtney-Batson said that the property would be subject to a review after completion that would measure how well Splash's operators are adhering to the site plan. She said there would be an automatic traffic study and that if the site generates enough complaints, there could be other studies such as for noise.
Splash used to operate another car wash less than 1,000 feet northeast of the proposed new location. The old Splash site is owned by the Shullman family, who owns the Russell Speeders Car Wash cha~ and began running one of their car washes there last year.