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Neighbors Protest Car Wash Plans

Town planners appear close to approving Splash Car Wash's site plan, proposed over two years ago.

Long a fixture on North Bedford road, is now beginning its third year of trying to get from one side of the street to the other.

In a last week, the zoning board devoted two hours to Splash’s appeals for parking and fence variances at the former Carvel site as well as to hearing the determined pleas of nearby residents to see them denied.

After the arguments—most of them politely, if forcefully, presented and many of them familiar from previous meetings of not only the ZBA but —Chairman David Mencken scheduled written comments and asked both sides to return Sept. 5.

Charles V. Martabano, the Mount Kisco lawyer who represents Splash before both regulatory bodies, reminded everyone Wednesday that “this specific application has been under review by the planning board for last two years.” The planners, after scrutinizing such things as parking, traffic, lighting, landscaping and water consumption since July 2010, appear close to approving the car wash’s proposed site plan.

Splash had scrubbed autos for years on the west side of Route 117, at 527 North Bedford Road, when it lost its lease in 2010. Not ready to leave town, CEO Mark Curtis looked east, to the former Carvel site at 570 North Bedford, as home for a new Splash. It would offer lubrication and detailing services along with automated and hand washing lines for autos.

With curb cuts eliminated along busy Route 117, plans called for traffic to enter and leave the facility via Valerio Court, a quiet side street. Just beyond its intersection with Route 117, however, Valerio slopes abruptly upward to homes nestled on land subdivided some half century ago into four lots, three of them occupied. Residents there insist the proposed car wash would become a noxious presence, generating unwanted autos and noise and generally driving down the value of their property.

“They [the Splash developers] have chosen the most intensive use of this property,” said Mount Kisco lawyer David J. Squirrel, who represents two of the homeowners, Dino DeFeo and Gregory R. DiNapoli.

“The traffic will choke out the residents of Valerio Court,” Squirrel predicted. Calling the private road an “extremely unique street,” he asserted that the zoning board must view it as a “residential cul-de-sac.”

But under current—and likely any future—Splash plans, Valerio Court would instead be widened to accommodate the car wash’s anticipated traffic.

Lydia Donohue, a retired Bedford teacher, beseeched the board to retain Valerio Court’s cul-de-sac character. A 30-year resident of the neighborhood, Donohue said she had been told an unnamed Bedford town employee, using leftover town macadam, long ago paved a dirt road that is now Valerio Court. Her home—built by the same town employee—officially faces South Beechwood Road. But Donohue said access to Valerio had been one of the demands when she and her husband bought the house in 1982.

The car wash proposal is “obviously affecting the value of my property,” Donohue said. “It’s making the value of all the houses up here go down.”
Pointing to the applicant’s color-coded map displays, she advised board members, “If this goes through, if you give a variance for this yellow part here, and you put an eight-foot wall up on top of where you blasted off that big, big sheer rock thing, you are going to affect my water, you’re going to affect my basement, you’re going to affect the value of my home. So, I don’t want you to do it.” 

What do you think about the proposed car wash site? Is there a market for two car washes in the same area? Let us know in the comments.

10506er August 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
This is a difficult issue. I do feel badly for the residents of Valerio - it can't be easy for them to come out and on to 117, but for all the years Carvel was there and active, at times there were more cars jockeying into position in that location than there will ever be with the car wash. Plus Carvel was open late in the summers and had more noise per square foot than any car wash could have. The car wash closes early and isn't open on rainy days. And I'm not sure how a nice new car wash would alter the value of the homes on Valeria over the Carvel that is now a giant ugly eyesore truck parking lot. I do think the town can support two car washes but I don't live on Valerio so I do think their opinions are important but I would hate to see Splash leave because they and the Town can't find a solution that works for everyone. Splash is very involved in all aspects of Bedford Hills fundraising and charitable events; they employ people who have worked there as long as they have been opened. That has to count for alot. Maybe someone who lives on Valerio could post a comment and help us understand what a reasonable compromise would be for them? Or are they against it period? The property WILL eventually be developed. If not the car wash, something else. I say the car wash would be better than some fast food place that will leave litter and cars at all hours.
Lisa Buchman (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, you raise some interesting points. Are there other Bedford Hills residents (Valerio Court or otherwise) who'd like to weigh in on what they'd like to see there?
Peter Sattler August 07, 2012 at 02:19 AM
@10506er - Maybe Splash should relocate to Bedford Village?
John G. Flynn August 08, 2012 at 04:50 AM
how about.Mt. Kisco..The Old Richards Lumber Location,or the old Grand Union Depot
10506er August 08, 2012 at 12:30 PM
John: I like both of those ideas very much, although what I suspect is in Splash's mind is that the strip of 117 has all the visibility - driving by and you think, oh, right, I need my car washed. While your two locations make a world of sense from the point of view of not disturbing the homeowners on Valerio, I doubt Splash would entertain either. We all know something will replace the crumbling Carvel. It's inevitable. If not Splash, what? I hope the residents of Valerio speak here because it will help us understand what would make them happy. It's such an eyesore now. I know: Bring back Bedford Barn! As any old-timer knows, that was THE place to go!!
bedford resident October 01, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Has anyone actually looked at the old Carvel lot? it seems no bigger than a postage stamp....... where would there be enough room for a car wash unless it is one for toy cars. behind the carvel lot is a parking lot for the car dealership....... how much more will the residents of Valerio Court be squeezed out? why not consider another entrance to the car wash.... leave Valerio court alone.... it is already tight enough with 2 businesses already using it.... including bank users that occupy the road instead of the bank parking lot..... and the long car delivery trucks that block it when they drop off cars. what will happen then?

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