Concerns may hold up new car wash's construction
Jun 30, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
In West Texas, the occasional rain showers, strong winds and lots of dust drive many residents to get their cars washed often.
While hours of waiting in line deter some people to handwash their cars despite water restrictions, one resident is hoping to build a car wash instead.
Robert Wilber, who's worked at a car wash before, said he wants to build a new car washing center on Eastridge Road, on the empty lot behind the Eastridge Shopping Center at East Loop 338.
"People are still washing their cars at home," Wilber told the Odessa City Council during their meeting Tuesday. "There's a need for this."
During the council meeting, the lot's current owner, Kriston Crow, requested to amend the zoning on the lot in order for Wilber to build his automated car wash.
The request was initially met with hesitation from the council members, who were concerned about additional high usage of city water during water restrictions.
"We haven't stopped (any car washes), but we haven't added any either," District 2 Councilman James Goates said at the meeting. "We're in a water shortage."
Last June, City of Odessa officials began their campaign to reduce water usage at residences. Included in their list of prohibited watering activities was residential vehicle washing, although commercial and mobile car washes were and still are allowed.
District 1 Councilman Bill Cleaver moved to approve the amendment, with the exception that the car wash would use well water instead of city water. District 3 Councilwoman Barbara Graff was the only board member to oppose the item; District 5 Councilwoman Sandra Carrasco was absent.
The council will make a final decision during their next meeting July 10.
Wilber wants to build another car wash to reduce the amount of illegal vehicle washing at residences and alleviate wait times at other car washes.
"A lot of people drive off and end up washing their vehicles and risk getting a ticket," Wilber said. "People's vehicles are some of their biggest expenses so they want to take care of it."
Wilber said that unlike other drive-through automated car washes that use jets of water to clean the car, his car wash will reduce the use of water with foam brushes to clean cars.
"We will use 17 gallons per car, (as opposed to) 50 to 60 gallons," Wilber said. "We'll be the most effective car wash in town."
The car wash will also have a reclamation system to catch excess water that can be filtered and used again, Wilber said.
The business will also have a covered vacuuming area for interior cleaning.
Prior to the city council meeting, the idea of a car wash did draw some disapproval from some of the Eastridge residents. Three written protests and one written approval were sent to the city.
Most residents were concerned that a new car wash would bring more noise and traffic to the neighborhood.
Crow said that neither he nor Wilber were surprised by the protests, because they had already visited with some of the residents to hear their concerns.
To remedy some of the concerns, the car wash will only operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and will be surrounded by a 7-foot cinderblock fence.
Although it might bring more competition to his business, Kersh Car Wash and Boutique owner Luke Kersh said the new business is welcome to Odessa.
"There are a lot of people in Odessa and the population is only growing," Kersh said. "Anyone willing to invest the time, energy and resources to open a car wash is going to do it the right way for the community and for the environment."
Kersh said there is a popular misconception that car washes use a lot of water, but that they actually use less water than people washing cars at home.
"We do use a lot compared to a person's household but compared to the amount of vehicles, we use much less water per car than what people do at home," Kersh said. "The industry as a whole is concerned with conservation. We watch water like you wouldn't believe."
In spite of Kersh's and Wilber's claims, Graff said she is still opposed to the idea when others continue struggling to save water.
"To me, this is not the time to build a car wash," Graff said. "We're in the middle of a drought. In a good conscience I would not vote for something that would use water. It's a great idea -- but not at this time."
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