SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MI-Cleanliness may be next to godliness. But when it comes to car washes in one Metro Detroit community, cleanliness apparently isn’t allowed next to cleanliness.

Township officials this week considered separate proposals for the construction of two car washes within a quarter-mile of each other on the north side of 23 Mile Road, between Hayes and Schoenherr roads. But the board of trustees ultimately approved one plan and rejected another, citing concerns the facilities would cause traffic snarls in the growing community.

“There is a danger involved on 23 Mile Road if you have stacking conditions (cars backed up) out there,” says Trustee James Carabelli. Despite that, trustees approved a special land use permit for Car Wash Builders on a one-acre site by a 6-1 vote, but shied away from supporting another.

Car Wash Builders was granted approval of the permit to build a car wash on a one-acre site. The company, which built a $2 Car Wash in Warren, originally had requested a combination tunnel car wash and oil change facility, but modified its plans and earned a recommendation for approval from the planning commission. Tony Gallo, president of Car Wash Builders, plans to build the car wash, but it will be operated by another company that runs a full-service facility in Chesterfield Township.

Minutes later, the board heard a proposal for a larger plan that included a tunnel car wash, two individual auto washes, three self-service car-wash bays and an 8,165-sf industrial building, all on a two-acre site. R & G Car Wash submitted the request and, like Car Wash Builders, had earned a favorable recommendation from the township planning commission. But the company’s plans, particularly the adjacent industrial building, proved too ambitious for board members, who unanimously rejected the proposal.

“You’ve got cars coming into a car wash, cars coming and going from an industrial building and cars leaving the car wash, all from a 30-foot drive,” says township supervisor Skip Maccarone. Adds Trustee David Kady: “There could be some serious safety issues.”

While some might question the wisdom of locating similar businesses on the same side of a major road just a short distance apart, that alone is not legal justification for denying the special land use. If R & G returns with another plan that addresses the problems cited by board members, dueling car washes could be a reality along 23 Mile Road.

“They could build five of them if they want,” Maccarone says. The concern right now is safety, he adds.

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