MEQUON — Jilly’s Car Wash owner Jon Zimmerman said he’s never received more emails than when he heard from Mequon residents as he prepared to open his Glendale location. They wanted him to open a Mequon site too, he said.
But now that he’s proposing opening a car wash in Mequon, he’s hearing again from local residents — those who oppose it.
Zimmerman and his wife Jill, the company’s namesake, asked the city for a building plan, site plan, and conditional use permits to open a Jilly’s lot at 10829 N. Port Washington Road. The property is part of a 9 acre site consisting of five lots including Landmark Credit Union. The Planning Commission approved it 7-1 at its meeting last week.
The Jilly’s building will be located at the southern end of the site, with access from an existing private driveway and a slip road beyond.
10 parking spaces are planned, which will be used for vacuuming and cleaning vehicles, as well as a washing hall, in which cars will be driven through on a conveyor belt. Cars will enter and exit the store on the access road, not Port Washington Road.
Jilly’s will be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., consistent with other uses in the area as well as other car wash facilities in Mequon, according to the urban development staff located across Port Washington Road from Stein’s Gardens and Gifts and off the access road adjacent to the Winding Hollow Subdivision and Winding Hollow Condominiums, Cedarhurst Assisted Living, Oakwood Senior Living and Gan Ami Early Childhood Education.
Several neighbors spoke out against the site during a public planning commission hearing, noting that it was only 500 feet from the homes and condos and the noise from the store, including the electric vacuum, was disruptive.
The city set a decibel limit of 70 decibels for the store, which neighbors say should be lowered.
Gary Balcerzak, representing Winding Hollow Condominiums, said the facility will not only cause noise pollution and affect property values, but also pose a safety hazard to the elderly and children walking on the access road.
He said local residents could clearly hear the noise from the freeway, so a much closer car wash with vacuums and bay doors would be inconsistent with the area. The proposed deciduous trees, designed to deaden noise, are insufficient, he said.
“We don’t mind another car wash in Mequon,” said Balcerzak, who said he likes Jilly’s so much that he has a monthly membership at the Glendale location. “What we firmly reject is a car wash in this residential area.”
Neighbors also expressed concern about the ambient music to be played inside and outside the facility during operating hours, and they were also worried about potentially loud music coming from customers’ cars.
Mequon Assistant Director of Community Development Jac Zader told the planning commission that he worked with Zimmerman on four to five different concept options for designing the site. He said it was a difficult site because it was a small site, adding that he believed this was the best design.
Zader also said there are many discussions about noise. Readings taken in the area by a regulation enforcement officer found levels to range from 62 to 100 decibels, depending on traffic. When articulated lorries brake hard on the freeway, 100 decibels can be measured, Zader said.
Port Washington Road is at its quietest when there is no traffic, usually at night when readings are still around 62.
Zimmerman said this is his fifth Jilly’s location, and except for the Elm Grove location, all are closer to housing developments than the Mequon location. And he’s never had a noise complaint, he said.
“We come in peace,” he said.
Based on comments from local residents, the Planning Commission changed the plan to eliminate music played outside. They also requested that evergreen or other non-deciduous trees be placed on the west and south sides of the building to better deaden noise.
“If you just look at the zoning, that’s allowed. So you have to be aware that you are right on Port Washington Road and something is going to happen there,” Commissioner Stephanie Hawley said. “I think they (Jillys) try to be good neighbors. I support you.”
Commissioner Gregg Bach voted against, although his only comment during the discussion was to ask if the owners had met with neighbours. Zader said they received the neighbors’ comments just before the meeting, so there wasn’t time.
The vote is final unless submitted to the Joint Council for review. This requires two deputies or one deputy and the mayor. You have until Monday before this opportunity expires.
Zimmerman told News Graphic that he aims to open the car wash on March 1 next year if allowed to move forward with the plan.