Proposed Nottingham Way car wash draws questions from Albany City Commission

Ward III Albany City Commissioner B.J. Fletcher, left, speaks with Code Enforcement Director Nathaniel Norman at the conclusion of Tuesday’s commission work session.

ALBANY — A proposed car wash at the corner of Nottingham Way and Ledo Road drew tough questions from Albany City Commission members during a Tuesday work session.

Central to those questions was the impact of noise on nearby businesses and residential neighborhoods from the sound of commercial car dryers and, to a greater degree, the decibels of car stereos of drivers passing through the automatic washing system.

That issue has plagued residents close to one such business on Slappey Boulevard, Ward III Commissioner B.J. Fletcher said during a public hearing held on the zoning proposal during the Tuesday meeting.

“The car wash y’all are talking about on Slappey has been a nightmare for me for two years,” she said of the business located in her ward.

During a visit to a friend’s residence near that location, she said, the noise was visibly noticeable.

“You could literally see the window glass shaking on the balcony,” Fletcher said. “The biggest problem we’ve faced, and we’re still facing, is the music. (Police) officers are being called.”

The applicant for the proposed car wash at 2828 Nottingham Way in Ward II has committed to installing “state of the art” blowers and vacuums to limit noise, Albany attorney Joe Dent, who was representing Concept Companies, said.

“We want to be business-friendly, and we want to protect the people who live out there,” Fletcher said of the Nottingham Way proposal. “It’s going to be a tough decision, but the music has got to go.”

The owners have committed to minimizing the impact on the surrounding businesses and residents, Dent said. To that end, the company plans to place signage stating that loud music is prohibited and is committed to enforcing that prohibition.

In lieu of public comments, letters from nine area residents opposing rezoning that would be required for opening the business were presented to the commission.

Lisa Edwards, who spoke during the public hearing, said her concerns include safety for school buses with the increased traffic the car wash would bring. There also are a number of other similar businesses within close proximity to the location, including a car detail shop across the street.

“Another concern I have is the sustainability of businesses in the area,” she said. “If you look in every direction, you’ve got another car wash. I do not think a car wash would be a viable business in that location. I am concerned about the traffic coming in.”

Commissioner Chad Warbington said he would like to have the company provide a noise study for the anticipated impact of nearby businesses, which include restaurants with outdoor seating areas, and residents.

City ordinances prescribe a 60-decibel limit for residential areas and 65 decibels for commercial sites, the Ward IV commissioner said.

{p dir=”ltr”}The blowers used to dry cars can produce noise comparable to jet engines, he said during an interview following the meeting, and it is the company’s responsibility to provide a study proving the noise would not exceed allowed limits.

Commercial car washes at several locations in the city have posed noise issues for residents he said.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning request at its meeting next week.

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