Scottsville, which currently has no car wash facilities, will be getting one soon.
On Monday, the Town Council approved a special-use permit for a car wash and drive-thru as part of a gas station/convenience store project on James River Road near its intersection with Scottsville Road.
“The desire for a car wash has popped up a couple of times in some of the surveys that we’ve done in the past, so my sense is that there is demand within the town for a car wash and I think it’s going to be a viable industry,” Councilor Stuart Munson said at the meeting, which was held mostly virtually, but with an in-person option.
The 2.9-acre property is zoned commercial, and was formerly the site of the Coleman Sales office. Tiger Fuel is planning to build one of its convenience store markets on the site, with a gas station and car wash. The gas station and store can be built by right, but the car wash and drive-thru window needed a special-use permit.
Aaron Revere, with Tiger Fuel, said the company currently is not using drive-thru windows at its other markets in the area, but it has considered it over the years.
“Particularly in light of 2020, it may be even better; we’re starting to use apps, you can pre-order your sandwich, maybe there’s a coffee thing,” he said. “We just wanted to, while we’re here to talk about the car wash, go ahead and give us a chance to have that flexibility to best serve this community.”
Revere said the site is “not designed or intended to serve” tractor-trailers, and that there will still be a tree buffer along Route 20, as the site’s property line does not reach the road, and along the back of the property.
Councilor Dan Gritsko said he had “extreme regrets” about the Dollar General site design, and wanted to see sidewalks included in Tiger Fuel’s project.
“We should have suggested sidewalks or things there that would have made it easier for people because people do walk [to it],” he said. “…We just need to think about, as [Tiger Fuel continues working on its site plan], how do we accommodate the pedestrians who are going to be crossing streets and who are going to be walking in that area.”
Councilor Zachary Bullock, who cast the lone vote against the permit, was concerned about the drive-thru providing Tiger Fuel a competitive edge over other food businesses in town.
“If they can increase their own traffic and volume through the use of a drive-thru, that gives them an advantage, and we will be authorizing that advantage,” he said. “I feel uncomfortable with that, mostly because I don’t really know what it will lead to. It might not have an impact, but it might have an impact, and that unknown piece makes me uncomfortable.”
There was also concern about the car wash being open 24 hours a day, and councilors and the company agreed to a condition to review the hours in two years if there were documented noise ordinance or nuisance problems that went unaddressed by Tiger Fuel.
350 Valley St.
The council also approved a special-use permit to allow tourist lodging, such as Airbnbs, on the second floor of the building at 350 Valley St.
The property is zoned commercial and the building has retail and commercial space on the first floor with an apartment upstairs. Both the apartment and ground floor space are currently vacant.
“I’m glad we’re looking at a permit for some more lodging down here,” Bullock said. “I know in terms of our own tourism and economic development, that’s something that we need.”
Councilors had discussed whether to permit the whole building to be used as tourist lodging, but ultimately decided to only include the second floor, which was what was asked for in the application.
“Let’s take it step by step, and if it comes to that point … and who knows when that might be — say the tire factory gets going by then — then it might be a different situation,” Councilor Lindsay Brown said.
At Monday’s meeting, the Town Council also approved a small area plan for West Downtown.
The plan covers about 100 acres, including the site of the former Hyosung Tire plant and the Valley Street corridor. The plan’s main focus areas are town character, connectivity, stewardship and growing the town.
In an interview, Town Administrator Matt Lawless said when the first draft had a public hearing in the summer, it received a lot of criticism.
“People who didn’t feel involved found the document hard to navigate, like, ‘What is this, and what does it mean for us?’” he said. “So it was really a, ‘hold your horses, we need to look at this more closely’ moment.”
The town Planning Commission got more residents involved through an extra planning team to look at the document and help rewrite it, Lawless said, which resulted in a more concise plan.
“It’s much more clear what the goals are, what our priorities are,” he said. “It takes a lot of the fear away around, on the one hand, a useless plan that’s not going to change anything, and on the other hand, rampant development that’s going to compromise what we like about the community.”
The plan’s recommendations are organized into short-, medium- and long-term proposals, and by town programs, town-led construction and partnerships or third-party efforts, and includes things such as enhanced events and public art, building additional sidewalks and prioritizing filling of existing vacant downtown buildings with new mixed uses.
Bullock said he would like to see the rezoning of the factory site for mixed use and extending homes down Bird Street added as a Planning Commission town goal by 2022. In the plan, the rezoning was recommended to be completed by 2026.
“… So that we can start really pitching this to developers, because they can’t do anything until they know what the zoning is that they’re working with,” he said.
When asked, Brown, who also sits on the town Planning Commission, said she thought it could be done.
“As a matter of importance, yes, there’s nothing else that really tops this at the moment,” she said. “And we can deal with other special-use permits and whatnot as they come along, but I think this is a project that we really should concentrate on.”