STOW -- Motorists driving down Kent Road near Fishcreek Road should before too much longer have an option in the immediate area for washing off their dirty cars.

The city's panning commission approved 4-0 July 6 a site plan and conditional zoning certificate for a 5,500-square-foot car wash on a four-acre lot at 4571 Kent Road. Commission member Chris Brauer was absent.

It is expected to go to City Council's planning committee on July 27 and may be included on Council's regular meeting agenda later that evening.

The property is on the north side of Kent Road, a little east of Fishcreek. Planning Director Rob Kurtz said it was formerly a McDonald's restaurant.

"It's re-using an existing commercial site that has been probably vacant maybe four years," said Kurtz.

Commission Chairman Rich Sprungle said he is "glad to see" a "site that has been vacated get used."

"That's always nice to see in the city," said Sprungle.

Kurtz said the conditional zoning certificate is needed because car washes are conditionally permitted in the property's C-4 general business district.

Kurtz said the property's developer, 4571 Investments LLC, is also seeking a variance from a city ordinance prohibiting car washes from operating below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

"[The ordinance] must have been put into effect to avoid having water freezing on the right-of-ways," said Kurtz, adding that the city's planning department supports the variance request..

"The applicant has provided information how they're addressing this potential issue in that most of the water will stay on the site prior to leaving the building itself," said Kurtz.

Trent Walter, a representative of 4571 Investments, said a combination of dryers and a drying agent used in the car wash will take care of at least 90 percent of the water and trench drains in the building will catch the rest. Walter noted that any water that escapes the building would freeze on the property, not just in the public right-of-way.

"It's just as critical for us not to have icing on our lot," said Walter.

Kurtz said site plan approval is contingent upon building department approval of construction plans, the city arborist's approval of landscaping plans and the engineering department's approval of stormwater mitigation plans.

Kurtz said stormwater flow should be reduced because a car wash needs less parking than a restaurant, which will result in an approximately 10 percent reduction in the amount of pavement.

Walter said he believes this will mean there will be about 51,000 square feet of pavement, rather than about 57,000 square feet currently on the site.

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