Use variance for car wash turned down by ZBA

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – The east Dearborn car wash that had its two automated wash bays shut down by the city in June has lost an appeal to get them reopened.

Speed Wash, 7333 Wyoming, had its bid for a use variance to reopen the bays voted down unanimously by the Zoning Board of Appeals Nov. 20.

The other seven bays at the car wash, which are self-service, will not be affected by the vote.

The car wash was built in 1981 and a variance for one automated washer bay was granted by the ZBA in 2006 to then-owner Kaid Bazzi, who installed two automated bays and eventually sold the business to Edward Harake in April of this year.

In June, the ZBA revoked the variances granted in 2006, which meant the property would revert back to variances granted in the 1981 agreement.

Zoning Administrator Thomas Paison said several complaints had been made against the business, including some regarding the noise generated by machinery in the automated wash bay.

Harake argued that the noise level in the area is already high because of the traffic on Wyoming. He said he would be willing to remove the dryers from the bays and he had taken other measures to reduce noise, such as closing the business during the night.

Harake also had decibel levels taken by a sound engineer during a weekday afternoon on the property line, which showed a fluctuation of decibel levels between 45 and 70, with the spikes of 70 decibels occurring when large vehicles drove in front of the business.

City code limits decibel levels to 60 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., 55 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 50 from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“There is a decibel level there of 55 and many times 70 without any of the car wash equipment on,” Harake said. “Do you stop every large truck that passes by and tell them that they are in violation because they’re exceeding the 60 decibels?”

Paison said the decibel levels were not decided by the ZBA and that the ordinances still had to be followed. He said the sound engineer hired by Harake came back with results that showed the noise level on the property line to be above what is allowable by the city.

After deliberating on the request, the commissioners voted 5-0 to deny the use variance.

There were several other non-use variances that were approved for the car wash since it was created, but they were continued because they were not on the agenda for review by the commissioners.

Those variances include not having the required masonry enclosure around their trash, vehicular access and the orientation of the bays, which face the street though they are not supposed to, according to city code.

Also at the meeting, Hertz Rent-A-Car Corp., 23701 Kean, and Kelly’s Pub, 3701 S. Telegraph, were granted variances for projects.

Hertz was approved to move into a building at 14651 Michigan Ave., which was formerly used by the Joe Ricci Automotive Group.

The variances involved with the move were that the driveway for the location is set back only 25 feet from the nearest intersection and the lot is only .28 acres large. City code calls for the driveway setback to be 60 feet and the lot to be 2 acres.

Kelly’s Pub had several variances granted so that the business can remove an existing outdoor dining deck and replace it with a new outdoor dining patio.

The pub will be allowed to use a 6-feet-8-inch-tall decorative fence around the patio though city code only allows for a 4-foot decorative fence or wall. A second variance was awarded for the greenbelt surrounding the patio, with the landscaping ranging from 2 to 10 feet with 24 shrubs and perennials. The city code calls for 10 feet of greenbelt with 2 trees and 14 shrubs.

An agenda item that was postponed from the meeting was a request for a variance to construct a covered outdoor smoking area at J.D. Bamboozles, 14323 Michigan Ave.

The area would be constructed at the rear of the existing bar but is designed to take up 85 percent of the lot, while city code states that it can only take up 50 percent.

Which future meeting the issue was postponed to was not said, but the earliest would be in January because the ZBA does not have a scheduled meeting in December.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at