Northbrook approves car wash over last-minute pleas

NORTHBROOK — Time will tell.

Now, the residents of Northbrook Greens, The Ponds of Sunset Ridge and Royal Ridge will see whether their fears are justified that their property values will be damaged by the erection of a car wash between their three Techny subdivisions.

The Northbrook Village Board voted 6-0 Aug. 11 to approve a special permit to allow Waterways Gas & Wash to build its first Chicago-area car wash at 2370 Waukegan Road.

The only member of the Board that agreed with the neighbors was James Karagianis. But the chairman of the Board’s Planning and Zoning Committee was on vacation in Vail, Colo. He asked his fellow board members to postpone the vote until the next meeting, Sept. 9, so that he could get back to try and talk them into seeing it his way. No one made the motion he requested, or commented. Then, after hearing a few residents take their last shots at trying to change their minds, the members voted, again without discussion, to let the car wash build.

The Board had done its talking at a July 22 meeting, when the majority said that the property was commercial, and that the car wash was an attractive, safe and acceptable commercial use.

After the vote, Arthur Paullin, the treasurer of The Ponds homeowners association, said that the special permit requirements included those that banned the new use from damaging surrounding properties.

“They completely ignored the special permits,” he said.

One of the few sentences any Board members uttered Aug. 11 was heard after Julie Weldon of Royal Ridge brought up the fact that the Northbrook Plan Commission had voted 5-4 to recommend the Village Board turn down Waterway.

“If the Plan Commission voted against this, what is the purpose of that board, if you’re going to go against their vote?” Weldon asked.

“The role of the Plan Commission is to make a recommendation,” Village President Sandy Frum said. “They’re not elected, and cannot make a final decision. We make the final decision in this case.”

The majority of her Board was positive about the car wash before the Plan Commission held hearings, and they didn’t change much after them.

Just before Weldon spoke, Northbrook Greens’ Gail Shipley told trustees, “This project has been opposed by almost every individual in the Techny community. I’m talking about 1,000 residents.”

She predicted that the traffic, especially the left turns allowed into the car wash, would cause accidents.

“Why are you doing this? We need a gas station and car wash there like we need elephants.

“This project makes no sense except to the people who are making the money from it,” Shipley said.

Karagianis was the only trustee who agreed, and he was 1,100 miles away. He had told Pioneer Press that afternoon that he was making a long-distance plea to change minds, or at least delay a vote until the next meeting, Sept. 9, so he could do so in person.

“I don’t think the business generates enough revenue to make a difference,” he said.

“It does not employ enough people to make a difference. I think it could affect property values, and the two curb cuts [onto Waukegan Road] are a safety hazard.”

A delay was extremely unlikely to have led to a change in the direction of the Board, Village Trustee Todd Heller said after the Aug. 11 meeting.

“If more people had agreed, if it was 3 to 3, it would have been different,” he said.

“But it would have been unfair to make the developer wait another month.”

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