The owners of one of downtown Melbourne’s last surviving kit homes oppose construction of a Mr. Clean Car Wash next door, at the corner of U.S. 1 and Palmetto Avenue.
A Georgia company seeks a zoning permit to build a 3,211-square-foot automatic car wash with two drive-up pay lanes and a parking area with 15 vacuum stations at the vacant 0.74-acre grassy lot across the street from Wawa.
But Diane and Dr. Paul Scott own Associated Endodontists next door at 1114 Palmetto Ave., one of downtown Melbourne’s four verified surviving kit homes. Built in 1910, this Aladdin Homes catalog-order bungalow was assembled from pre-cut numbered pieces in the historic Riverview Village neighborhood.
“We have the original windows and fireplace. It’s very quaint. People that walk in there that have to have this type of surgery, we try to make them feel very relaxed. So you know, we spent a lot of time maintaining the integrity of the structure of this building,” Diane Scott said.
“It will just turn that whole area into an automotive gateway,” Scott said of the car wash.
Tuesday night, the Melbourne City Council will consider first reading of a conditional-use ordinance and a site plan for the Mr. Clean Car Wash.
“Noise attenuation is the main concern for the proposed use and the proximity to the surrounding uses, including residentially developed properties abutting to the north. Staff coordinated with the applicant on a detailed sound study, in conjunction with site design to minimize sound,” a City Council agenda memo said.
“The applicant’s sound expert prepared a sound study based upon all proposed improvements at the car wash, and the study shows that the proposed car wash should meet the decibel level requirements at each property line as outlined within city code,” the memo said.
“In addition, multiple conditions have been included that are typical for car wash establishments, especially as it relates to noise. These conditions include a requirement for acoustic silencers for the drying blowers, 10-foot tall masonry walls along the north and east property lines, 8-foot-tall walls surrounding the vacuum compressors, a requirement to monitor and maintain equipment, landscaping and sound testing,” the memo said.
Mr. Clean Car Wash operates a Florida location in Leesburg, with two more coming to Ocala and Oxford, according to the company website. A similarly named competitor, Mister Car Wash, operates Space Coast locations in Suntree, Viera and Titusville.
The developer is Axis Infrastructure LLC of Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The company hired Siebein Associates, a Gainesville architectural-acoustics consulting firm, to perform a noise study for the Melbourne car wash. Proposed operating hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
The 10-foot masonry wall would separate the car wash from Associated Endodontists — creating “an eyesore,” Paul Scott said. Sunday, he sent emails asking people to contact City Council members to oppose construction of the “mega car wash.”
“It’s a lot of car wash, with cars coming through on a not very large piece of land. You just feel like you’d kind of become basically a driveway between Wawa and the car wash,” Scott said Monday morning.
In 2017-18, City Hall officials compiled a “Kit Homes and Waterfront Gems in Downtown Melbourne” survey that documented surviving historical structures. A $50,000 Florida Division of Historical Resources grant financed the project, which created a 175-page report and an interactive online map.
The Scotts’ Aladdin home — an Albany model with hip roof, flared eaves and exposed rafters — is featured in the report.
A few blocks to the west, a Gordon-Van Tine kit home that had been extensively vandalized was razed in August 2013 at Palmetto Avenue and Hickory Street.
Then in July 2016, the nearby blue-and-white Elizabeth Eaton home in Riverview Village — the first building listed on the Melbourne Register of Historic Places — was ravaged by fire. The Victorian Vernacular house dated to 1893.
The downtown Melbourne Wawa at U.S. 1 and Strawbridge Avenue opened in August 2018. Paul Scott said he considers Wawa an improvement over the deteriorated buildings that used to occupy that block, but he thinks the car wash will be detrimental to his business.
The proposed car wash property was initially developed as a home in 1920, which was replaced by a gas station in the early 1940s, a city memo shows. A motel was added in the late 1950s, and the gas station was demolished by 1959 and replaced by an office and dwelling. The land is now vacant.
Axis Infrastructure referred a request for comment to Tara Tedrow, an Orlando land use-development attorney representing the company. Messages left for Tedrow were not immediately returned for this story.
In a Jan. 14 email to City Hall planners, Tedrow said the site is about half the size of Wawa across the street.
“Given that the site is permitted to have commercial uses already, the proposed low-impact use is more compatible with nearby residential than other uses permitted by right in C-2 (hotel, motel, restaurants, vehicle sales, retail, indoor recreation, etc.),” Tedrow said in the email.
“The design of the property has been thoughtfully and carefully laid out to mitigate any compatibility concerns and provides an appropriate and needed transition between residential homes to the north and the more intense commercial uses around the property,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Melbourne automated car wash proposed next to Wawa; historic home owners oppose idea