The 7-Eleven lot in Smithers is one step closer to getting a car wash.
Council unanimously adopted a zoning amendment for the 7-Eleven lot at 4011 Hwy 16 at its May 14 meeting.
Members were, however, quick to point out that just because the rezoning was approved, by no means has the project been sanctioned by council.
“I’m concerned that the rezoning really does give the proponent a sense that it’s a green light,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach.
In the end, council decided to support rezoning with the caveat that the applicant must hold an open house for consultation with the public before moving forward with the developmental permit process.
Councillors seemed unanimous in their desire to support the rezoning but also signal to developers that they were not being given carte blanche with regard to construction plans.
During discussion on the matter many councillors raised concerns, from noise to logistics.
“I’m concerned that we’re going to get another Tim Hortons situation where the lineup is going to be … out on the highway,” said Coun. Frank Wray.
The meeting began with a public hearing on the matter where council heard just over half an hour of submissions from residents concerned with the development.
“We’d like to see a noise barrier wall of some sort,” said resident Kasper Green, who lives directly behind the lot.
Green added that he was also worried about runoff from the proposed car wash and how the development could affect property value.
“This is not your average chunk of dirt,” said resident Blair Wind, expressing concern about off-site migration of contamination from the lot to surrounding areas.
“This should have been dealt with decades ago.”
Other residents voiced similar experiences.
“I know my soil itself directly behind [the lot] is contaminated,” said resident Hailey Ross, whose house is next to the 7-Eleven lot.
In addition to addressing neighbour’s concerns, the company now needs to make a Form and Development application to the Town and work with staff to make sure the Town’s requirements are met. They must also get approval from the Ministry of Transportation to address concerns about potential impacts on Hwy 16 traffic flow.
“Overall, council welcomes redevelopment of the site,” Bachrach said. “It’s a vacant building and it would be good to see the site put to use. Most of the comments we heard in the public hearing were related to the final design, not the rezoning, so we’re optimistic that staff and the developer can work with the neighbours to come up with strategies to address those concerns.”
If successful, the car wash would be constructed after demolishing the now-defunct Greyhound bus depot portion of the existing building.