Springs-Fireplace Road Car Wash Scrutinized

A proposal to build a car wash on Springs-Fireplace Road on the privately held one-acre sized lot between the entrance and exits to the East Hampton Recycling Center may be in hot water, judging from the reaction to it by the East Hampton Town Planning Board on June 6.

The plans call for a 5,455-square-foot building. Cars would enter in the same direction as those entering the recycling center, then make a left turn onto the car wash property. On the site plan, on file with the town Planning Department, at least 10 cars could queue up at any one time, using three lanes that would lead up to the car wash. There would be a total of 17 parking spaces at the car wash’s exit, most of which would be dedicated to detailing the cars.

The applicant, a limited liability company named 238 Springs Fireplace Road owned by Greg Darvin, has proposed running the car wash under a Suffolk County Zero Discharge Permit, meaning the water used by the operation would have to be totally self-contained, until it is eventually replaced.

Two members of the Planning Board, Randy Parsons and chairman Job Potter, were skeptical.

Potter asked who would be parking in those 17 spaces in the lot. Darvin’s answer was that, during the off-season, when demand is low, the plant would function more as a self-service car wash, while during the summer season, it would be full service. The parking spaces would be where interiors would be vacuumed, though off-season, customers could bypass that option.

When asked about his proposal to obtain a Zero Discharge Permit, Darvin said it would be hard for him to elaborate on the technicalities, because, he said, the car wash business is highly competitive, and proprietary. Companies will not agree to set up, share plans, or run a car wash until a site plan is obtained, he said.

“I don’t have the financial wherewithal to do that unless I know whether this site plan is going to be approved,” he said.

Potter responded by questioning how the board could issue a site-plan approval without knowing answers to basic questions about the proposal. Darvin answered that the approval could be based on certain contingencies.

Potter told Darvin that every drop of water that is used on this site would need to be accounted for.

Darvin pointed out that much of the opposition to the proposal comes from Springs, while the car wash is in East Hampton proper.

Board member Kathleen Cunningham asked if Darvin would consider selling the property if the town board was interested in purchasing it. “Probably not,” Darvin answered, saying he had already put a considerable amount of time and money into his proposal.

The site-plan application file already contains almost 30 letters in opposition to the proposal. Carl Irace, an attorney representing Citizens to Preserve the East End, was one of the speakers against the project who spoke that night. Citizens to Preserve the East End also opposed the Golden Car Wash proposed for Wainscott, which was ultimately withdrawn from consideration after heavy opposition from the public.

On Monday, Irace questioned the traffic study presented to the board. He pointed out that the study was done off season. He also pointed out, as did Eric Schantz, a planner for the town, in a memo written to the board, that the study was lacking in key details, such as collision history in the area, and the volume of traffic on nearby roads.

Irace also asked about the waste water. Where would it end up going? Would East Hampton be spared, while the waste water was simply shipped to another community where it would have to be dealt with?

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