LAKE FOREST — A car wash, gas station and convenience store at Waukegan and Everett Roads took its next step in the approval process on December 4, but ultimate passage by the Lake Forest City Council is no certainty.
The council voted 5-3 to accept a positive recommendation from the Plan Commission to grant a special-use permit to Waterway Car Wash send the proposed development the Building Review Board for further consideration. The action was taken at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting December 4 at City Hall.
Three Aldermen — Michelle Moreno, Raymond Buschmann and Melanie Rummel — voted to kill the project at the meeting without further review. While five council members voted to continue the process, one of them, Alderman Tim Newman, said he has serious concerns.
“The process is incomplete,” said Newman in a DailyNorthShore interview during a break in the meeting. “I have serious concerns about the impact it will have on the neighbors’ property value.”
Catherine Czerniak, the city’s director of community development, said the project will be placed on the Building Review Board’s agenda early next year.
Before anyone on the council posed questions to Czerniak after her description of the project and the Plan Commission’s suggested limitations, Moreno said it was time to end the project immediately.
“I am pro development in general but the intensity of this project is just too much for this space,” said Moreno. “This may be an eyesore,” she added later referring to the concrete slab that has been vacant for 10 years. “But allowing this project will create a permanent eyesore.”
Along with Moreno, Buschmann and Rummel, 18 members of an overflow standing-room-only crowd of more than 120 people voiced strong opposition to the project because of concerns over the potential for increased noise, traffic, safety issues, unsuitability for the area and a feared diminution of property value.
“The general welfare of the community is never served if one segment of the community is underserved,” said Father Robert Dempsey of St. Patrick Catholic Church. The church is located across Everett from the proposed car wash.
Buschmann said a more appropriate use of the land in the commercially zoned area would be retail shops such as an antique store, bakery or clothing shop. He said an “industrial-quality car wash” was not the right answer.
If Waterway ultimately gets its special-use permit, it plans operate its car wash from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The gas station and convenience store will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. The council could alter those hours and put other conditions on a permit.
Aldermen Prue Beidler and Jed Morris expressed strong support for the project while Aldermen Jack Reisenberg and Randy Tack were more tentative with their yes votes. Both Reisenberg and Tack want to see what the Building Review Board does before making a final decision.
Beidler said she puts a lot of faith in the work done by the village’s commissions and boards and feels it is time to develop the property.
“I believe in the process,” said Beidler. “This is how we express ourselves and we do that well here in Lake Forest. This property is zoned for a business use and this is a business use.”
Once the Building Review makes its recommendation to the council, there will be a final vote. In the event of a tie among the eight aldermen, Mayor Rob Lansing breaks the tie.