, 2014

Planning commission recommends rezoning
Route 3 parcel targeted for automated car wash

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

WHITE STONE—Following a public hearing last Thursday, the White Stone Planning Commission decided it was logical to rezone a parcel of land on Route 3 from residential to commercial, despite some concerns from neighbors. 

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“Anytime you start taking away residential, R-3, in our town...you have to look at its proximity to Route 3,” said planner Paul Elbourn. “Route 3 is the commercial district in our town. It’s not a stretch. I understand the concerns, but I don’t see the problem [with the rezoning].” 

Elbourn made the motion to recommend the rezoning from R-3 to commercial, C-1, on a .465-acre parcel along Rappahannock Drive. The recommendation and the rezoning request will be heard by the town council at a public hearing in January. 

Elbourn’s motion to recommend the zoning change to council was seconded by Ginger Philbrick and passed, 3-0, by Elbourn, Philbrick and commission chairman John Taliaferro. 

Applicant’s plans

Hurst Harvey Oil Company seeks the change in zoning for a parcel owned by Virginia M. Jodon. It is just inside the town limits, approximately 1/16 of a mile south of Rappahannock Drive’s intersection with Shady Lane and adjacent to White Stone Family Practice.

Hurst Harvey has a contract to purchase the property and according to owners Wallace Lewis III and his sister Melinda Lewis, the oil company plans to locate an automated car wash on the lot. 

Land surveyor Charles R. Pruett made a presentation to the commission with a conceptual drawing of the property and car wash, which would include two wand bays, an automatic bay and equipment room. The car wash would use the town’s water supplier, Aqua Virginia. 

The car wash will be similar to the one at Cook’s Corner in Middlesex County, said Tim Fitzpatrick with Howco, which builds and owns car washes throughout North Carolina and Virginia. Howco would build the car wash. 

Citizen concerns

“What about the noise, lighting, cursing, loud music, trash and the gathering of young people?” said Calvin Dolby, who lives across the street along with his elderly mother. “I pray this doesn’t happen but I know of one situation where one young man left a car wash and went across the street and tried to break into a house. He ended up shooting her.”

Dolby asked for some reassurance that drugs, gun violence and gang beatings that have previously been associated with car washes elsewhere wouldn’t happen at this one. 

“I have grave concerns about that with the age of the people in the neighborhood,” he said. 

Mac Davis lives in White Stone, owns two businesses in the town and a commercial property across the street from the parcel in question. A former town councilman, Davis said the town has a loitering ordinance and he was personally assured by the town’s Chief of Police Cliff Dawson last week “that he could handle any problem that happened there and it would only happen one time.”

Davis added he would like to see a car wash in White Stone as long as all the questions concerning buffers, lighting and hours of operation are addressed.

Although the car wash would be accessible 24 hours a day, Fitzpatrick said very rarely are they used late at night. Normally business drops off around 8 p.m., he said. 

Dolby was concerned customers would be there late into the night and early morning. He suggested chaining the facility off at a certain hour so it is not open 24 hours a day. 

Applicants respond

Melinda Lewis told the commission her family has owned the Get & Zip convenience stores for some 28 years and “never had a problem with loitering” and the businesses are always well-lit. 

“If there were problems, we stayed on top of it,” she said. 

Dolby said he understood problems would be addressed but “the police chief cannot be everywhere all the time.”

Wallace Lewis asked if White Stone currently had a problem with youth gathering, playing loud music and causing problems. 

Instead of the commission responding, Davis said when he was on town council White Stone “had a lot of problems at the 7-11. Beatings, shootings, girls acting out of control...It was a nightmare.”

As a result, he said, the town hired a police chief and adopted the loitering ordinance, which “is solid and strong.”

He also said there is multijurisdictional enforcement of the ordinances available and the town could call on Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department as well as Kilmarnock’s Police Department and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department to respond. 

Town regulations

Town manager Patrick Frere told the commission and the eight people in attendance the town has ordinances regulating loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise, disorderly conduct, public profanity and drunkenness, and loitering.

Once the public hearing was closed, Elbourn reminded fellow commission members it was not recommending or denying a car wash but only considering whether or not rezoning the property to C-1 was an appropriate decision. 

Frere also said before Hurst Harvey could establish a car wash on the property, it would have to have all the appropriate zoning permits and meet all the necessary requirements including buffers. 

“I like to see business come to White Stone,” said Philbrick. “I think we need it. I understand the concerns but I’d like to think in good faith we can work together with the owners.”

Town council will hold a public hearing on the rezoning request in January and will consider the planning commission’s recommendation. The planning commission does not make rezoning decisions, only recommendations to the council.

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