A self-service car wash in Saugerties that has no regular employees doesn’t need bathrooms, according to a developer who hopes to get approval and a zone change for his car wash. Town of Saugerties Planning Board members questioned that premise at the board meeting of November 16 citing customers’ and part-time employees’ needs. On the other hand, engineer Scott Ouimet, who was presenting the plan, said the business was not planning to have any employees, so the bathroom was unnecessary.
The proposed Denier Car Wash would be located on Route 32 in the general business zone with an aquifer overlay. Car washes are not permitted in this zone. The rezoning proposal would allow car washes in the general business district with site plan approval and in the aquifer overlay district with site plan review and compliance with all requesting to protect the aquifer. The Planning Board cannot approve the project until the Town Board approves the zoning change.
Engineer Dennis Largos said car washes can be a cause of pollution, and that “the premise here is that they will recycle a large part of the waste stream and have zero off-site discharge, which is a lofty goal but a very high mountain to climb.” Larios also said that in the absence of a rest room for employees, the business could get by with a small septic system, similar to a home. Larios also questioned a number of other issues, including ingress and egress and health department sign off on the septic system.
John Denier, one of the principals of the company, said that with no employees, no bathroom would be necessary. He also said the applicants had decided not to phase the development, but to apply for a two-bay car wash, and that would be it.
Board member Mike Tiano said a bathroom should be provided, whether or not it was required for a full-time employee. Giving an example of a driver returning from a ski trip, he asked, “If I want to clean my car, I want to go to the bathroom too. The thing is, if you’re adamant about not having a bathroom, what happens when they start using facilities that aren’t yours around the building? I’ve seen this happen.”
The developers will be continuing to develop their plans “and if the building code requires a bathroom, we will certainly be installing one,” Denier said.
The Planning Board cannot take final action on the project until the Town Board passes the requested zoning change. At the same time, the planners will be advising the Town Board on the content of possible amendments.