A plan to build an automated car wash on Route 58 and Pulaski Street ran into some opposition from some neighbors and competitors at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Board Wednesday.
Patrick Marron, who owns Riverhead Auto Wash and Detailing, located east of the Roanoke Avenue traffic circle, said there are already four car washes on Route 58.
“Four car washes in 1.8 miles is quite enough,” he said.
He disputed the notion from the applicant, 1535 Old Country Rd, LLC, that there are only three nearby car washes. He said a car wash is also located at Apple Honda. The applicant argued that car wash is not open to the public.
The applicant proposes to demolish a single-family residence and barn and construct an 3,809-square-foot automated car wash with a 240-square-foot control office. The plans call for an unmanned kiosk pay stations at the three queuing lines for vehicles, vacuum stations, a paved parking lot, a dumpster enclosure, a loading area, two curb cuts on Pulaski Street, and cross access to the property to Riverhead Bay Motors, which is east of the site.
The proposal requires a special permit from the Town Board and a site plan approval from the town Planning Board.
The proposed car wash would have an entrance/exit from Pulaski Street, from the Pulaski Street extension that connects with Route 58, and from a cross access agreement with Riverhead Bay Motors to the east of the proposed car wash, which would enable cars to go between the two sites without having to go on Route 58.
Walter Dunn, a traffic engineer for the applicant, said the proposal will have no major impact on traffic and will add only 2 to 3.5% more cars per hour.
Charles Cuddy, an attorney representing the applicant, said that the special permit requires 18 conditions be met, and economics is not one of them. He said this car wash differs from others on Route 58 because it is completely automated.
A number of speakers from Riverhead Bay Motors, which is located east of the proposed car wash, raised objections to the proposed cross access road between the car wash and the car dealer.
Martin Finnegan, an attorney representing Riverhead Bay Motors’ property owner, called Riverhead Pooh LLC, acknowledged that they agreed to the cross access as a condition of their own site plan approval several years ago, but he stressed that the cross access would only be “if it was deemed necessary.”
“This cross access is of critical concern to the dealership,” Mr. Finnegan said. He suggested that traffic looking to get to Lowe’s or to Chipotle use the existing entrance on Pulaski Street.
Anthony Maura, the general manager of Riverhead Bay Motors, said that since Chipotle opened, “a lot of traffic goes through our parking lot, and rather fast.” He said he’s concerned that someone will get hit.
Al Carrabis of Blue Point, who said he’s hoping to be one of the operators of the new car wash if its approved, said he owns 26 car washes, from Hampton Bays to Staten Island.
The average person only goes to a car wash two times a year, he said.
“This won’t be competition for [Mr. Marron],” he said.
Riverhead Auto Wash and Detail is a full-service car wash with detail service, whereas the car wash being proposed is fully automatic where the driver remains in their car.
Mr. Carrabis also disagreed that Apple Honda’s car wash is open to the public. He said he was turned away because his car wasn’t being serviced.
Mr. Carrabis said the Mobil station was recently purchased by Bolla Oil, which he said doesn’t do car washes.
But Phil Hayes of Bolla Oil said they have “no plans to eliminate the car wash,” and that they plan on investing in it and upgrading it.
Another speaker, Joe Zaremba, said he lives on Pulaski Street and says that part of the traffic problem is that Riverhead Bay Motors’ car transport trucks are parking on the curb on Pulaski Street to unload cars.
Mr. Mauro said he didn’t think the trucks could fit on their lot.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked him to back the trucks into their lots to unload vehicles. She said public streets should not be used for unloading cars.