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Discussions Continue on Proposed Carwash on Lake Avenue

Wilmette trustees requested more noise-level data for the proposed carwash near Edens Plaza.

A proposed car wash at the Shell gas station near has been tabled until the Oct. 23 village board meeting after Wilmette trustees requested more data on the plan.

“I feel like we are making a great decision here without great data and it’s the applicants responsibility to bring us good data,” Trustee Cameron Kruger said during the Aug. 28 village board meeting.

The proposed $1.2 million plan would have added a gas pump, a drive-through car wash and a convenience store at the roughly 16,000-square foot space at 3501 Lake Ave., which is located in the village’s neighborhood retail zone.

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Among the zoning variations, Wilmette trustees and neighbors of the gas station were most concerned with the request for a 30.8-decibel noise variation to permit the operation of a car wash.  In a neighborhood retail zone, the village permits 50 decibels between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 45 decibels between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“What we’ve tried to do is come up with a solution that would not allow the noise to go above and beyond the ambient noise that is already on the site,” said Richard Barnes, the architect of the plan.

Based on a noise-level study Barnes conducted, the ambient noise is expected to be around 66.5 decibels, and the carwash would not exceed that level, Barnes said.  The carwash would also only be in operation between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. with doors closed to mitigate the noise level.

Trustee Bob Bielinski said while there was a genuine effort to provide noise-level data to the board, if the ambient level were 50 decibels, “we are talking about a very material change in the noise, so I don’t think the sound data is sufficient at this point in time.”

“My understanding is if you go up 10 decibels from a human ear point of view, 10 decibels is twice as loud and 20 decibels is four times as loud and 30 decibels is eight times as loud,” Belinski said. “So 80 versus 50 is eight times as loud, not, well, it’s 15 percent louder – it’s eight times as loud.”

Neighbors’ Concerns

Other concerns neighbors of the Shell gas station include overbuilding on the 16,138-square foot property and the traffic the proposed car wash could bring.

In 2007, Wilmette trustees approved a special use permit that allowed a convenience store to be built at the current Shell location, 3501 Lake Ave., but it was never built, village documents show.

Al Kanter, who lives on Laramie Avenue, just south of the gas station, told trustees that a convenience store would benefit people getting gas, “But I just think the square footage does not allow for all the things that they are trying to accomplish …. It’s putting 20-pounds worth of garage in a 5-pound bag.”

The proposed car wash would be able to accommodate up to nine cars waiting for the service, Barnes said. But Marcia Dover, who also lives on Laramie Avenue, is concerned that the cars waiting would bring more emissions from the cars.

“I love the gas station there but putting in the car wash there, for me, is just too much,” Dover said. “I don’t know how many people will want to sit, wait for four minutes and turn off their car.”

Business Owner Absent

Most trustees, except President Christopher Canning and Bob Bielinski, voted to table the issue until the October 23 village board meeting.

“It would be terrific to be able to look at the owner in the eye and ask the questions,” Krueger said.

Mohammad Yagoob, the business owner, was not present at the board meeting. Instead, the architect, general manager and the manufacture of the car wash equipment spoke on behalf of the applicant.

Rick Scali, the general contractor on the plan, says the property owner would have liked to start construction last year, “but it’s already passed.”

“If it’s passed at the next meeting, the owner would like to start construction in spring 2013,” Scali said.

Correction: In a previous version, we incorrectly said Trustee Alan Swanson voted against tabling the issue. It was Trustee Bob Bielinski and President Christopher Canning that voted against tabling the issue.

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