Concerns raised over car wash proposed on site of former Chili’s restaurant in St. Charles

St. Charles plan commissioners next month will review plans to build a car wash on the site of a former Chili’s restaurant on East Main Street in St. Charles.

A car wash being proposed on the site of a former Chili’s restaurant on East Main Street in St. Charles is generating its share of opposition.

Bolingbrook-based Jet Brite Car Wash Inc. has submitted plans to raze the former restaurant at 3795 E. Main St. and build an automatic car wash. The restaurant closed earlier this year.

Car washes require City Council approval of a special use. Plan commissioners reviewed the proposal during their meeting Dec. 6.

St. Charles resident John Norris wrote a letter to the city expressing his opposition to the project.

“I am pro business, but I’ll state the obvious, allowing this to be built would mean there would be three car wash locations in St. Charles within less than a mile of each other and the sixth such business in town,” Norris said in a letter to St. Charles Community Development Director Russell Colby. “Even in a pro-business environment, this seems absurd.”

Don Wickman, president of St. Charles-based Wickman Properties, also wrote a letter to the city expressing his concerns. He owns properties near the former Chili’s restaurant.

“My tenants would be subject to the noise of the continuously cycling drying blowers immediately across the street, as well as the other noises of a car wash,” Wickman said in his letter. “My office buildings are 100% windowed, allowing for substantial sound transmission to my professional tenants – Edward Hospital, Rush Hospital, law offices, physical therapy and medical-related companies operating 24/7/365 [days a year]. I wish to protect my tenants.”

Jessie Perez, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites that is located near the site, told plan commissioners he also thought the noise from the car wash would negatively affect the hotel’s operations.

In response to noise concerns, representatives from Jet Brite Car Wash said mufflers could be put on the blowers to keep them quieter. They also noted the car wash is only open until 9 p.m. each night.

The car wash would be able to serve 120 cars an hour. City staff has recommended that a full traffic study be done to determine the impact on existing traffic.

Plan commissioners voiced their own concerns about the project, including light spillover. They also wondered if there was enough business in the area to sustain another car wash. Jet Brite representatives said the area is underserved.

Other commissioners thought a car wash would be better suited next to a gas station or a car dealership.

Commissioners voted to continue the public hearing until Jan. 18. A traffic study is expected to be completed by that time.