UPDATE: Controversial carwash permit denied by P&Z

Planning & Zoning Commission rejects special use permit to build carwash on West Causeway Approach

4 Mandeville politicos attend, 3 speak against

UPDATE: July 14, 2021, at 6:19AM — Adds quotes, comments and other information
FLASH: July 13, 2021, at 7:03PM

MANDEVILLE – The Planning & Zoning Commission rejected a special use permit application to build a carwash on West Causeway Approach tonight (July 13, 2021) by a vote of 5-0, before another standing-room-only crowd.

The proposal, debated at a standing-room-only meeting in June, called for the construction of a 4,320-square-foot building on a 200-by-400-foot property on the east side of West Causeway Approach, which abuts Fontainebleau Subdivision. The properties to the north and south both have office buildings on them. Skipper Drive is directly across from the site.

Rhonda Alleman, President of the Fontainebleau Homeowners Association, again made her case before the commission, but this time, reading into the record a letter signed by representatives from other home owners associations and local businesses — 10 in all — that claim they would have been adversely affected by the proposed carwash.

“You have the authority to maintain the desired nature of the corridor and prevent this permanent damage and destruction in our community,” the statement read in part.

The commission received feedback from several other concerned citizens and heard and watched video and audio statements from various homeowners in other areas of Mandeville who claim to have been adversely affected by carwashes similar to the one proposed for West Causeway Approach.

Several elected officials addressed the commission during the relatively short debate period, compared to the June work session.

Councilman at Large Jason Zuckerman spoke to relay feedback he’s collected from members of the community. “The vast majority of the opposition I’ve received … has been really in opposition to the compatibility to the surrounding properties and the development along that approach… I really haven’t had any feedback in support of this use, but I have received overwhelming opposition to it.”

Zoning Chairman Nixon Adams told Zuckerman, “You know, of course, if everybody in this room, including us, really didn’t like carwashes, it really wouldn’t matter. We’ve got to have whatever findings as to why this is incompatible with the area.”

Adams continued by saying that the commission had requested information from the applicant — Chris Donner, who did not attend the meeting as he did the June work session — but they hadn’t received any further information. “We work with the facts we got.” Adams concluded.

Zuckerman agreed, saying that while some of the negative feedback he’s received was because people simply don’t want a carwash, but “most of it has been centered around the incompatibility with the office complexes and the residential (neighborhood) behind it.”

Mayor Clay Madden spoke against the carwash permit, saying of the commission, “I think the Planing & Zoning Commission exists to be that human element… and not just something on paper.”

This led to a brief discussion among commission members and the mayor, expressing their desire to have the CLURO (Comprehensive Land Use Regulations Ordinance) further examined to possibly avoid conflicts over “compatibility” in the future.

Commission Member Ren Clark said, “We’re just the people … charged with interpreting CLURO to the best of our abilities and to give findings about a particular deal.”

District I Councilwoman Rebecca Bush was the last to speak from the public, saying, “You’re looking at CLURO … you have what you need — health, safety, welfare, compatibility — so all of the factors you’re hearing are important… you have what you need to deny.”

District II Councilman Skelly Kreller was also in attendance but didn’t speak.

The vote itself was an uneventful 5-0 to deny, compared to the June work session where a parliamentary procedure gaffe on a different issue added to the tension in the room that night.

The property was annexed into the City of Mandeville in 2003 and zoned as Planned Combined Use (PCUD). The proposed use in this application is permitted with the approval of a zoning permit, or “Special Use Permit.”

According to information released by the Planning and Development Department, a zoning permit was approved in 2014 for the previous property owner, who also proposed a carwash facility, but that approval was contingent on special conditions, including restricting hours of operation, noise, and signage among other things.

Planning Chairwoman Karen Gautreaux and Commission Member Jeff Lahasky were not present at the meeting. Lahasky has moved outside Mandeville city limits and hence resigned, effective June 30th. Ren Clark’s term expires at the end of August.

-30-

Site of proposed carwash on West Causeway Approach. (Mandeville Daily/William Kropog)
Site of proposed carwash on West Causeway Approach. (Mandeville Daily/William Kropog)
Closeup of proposed carwash site on West Causeway Approach. (Overlay is approximate.) (Mandeville Daily/William Kropog)
Closeup of proposed carwash site on West Causeway Approach. (Overlay is approximate.) (Mandeville Daily/William Kropog)

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