Amid legal battle, developer shrinks West Chester car wash proposal

Developer Steiner + Associates has updated its proposal for a site along Liberty Way across the street from Liberty Center. The proposal switches gears for the site, changing plans for a 50,000-square-foot retail center to a 4,000-square-foot Flying Pig Carwash. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG / STAFF
Developer Steiner + Associates has updated its proposal for a site along Liberty Way across the street from Liberty Center. The proposal switches gears for the site, changing plans for a 50,000-square-foot retail center to a 4,000-square-foot Flying Pig Carwash. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG / STAFF

A developer has significantly changed its plans along Liberty Way, hoping the smaller proposal that now includes only a car wash along Liberty Way will pass legal muster with West Chester Twp.

Steiner + Associates recently filed an application with the West Chester planning department to change plans for the development from a 50,000-square-foot retail center to a 4,000-square-foot Flying Pig Carwash according to Aaron Wiegand, West Chester’s community development director.

He said the developer has switched gears, hoping to garner approval for a new plan after the old one was rejected.

“The car wash was denied months ago on the basis that the plan was not consistent with the approved preliminary development plan that was on file,” Wiegand told the Journal-News. “So what Steiner is doing is saying if that is the case then what we will ask to do is change the preliminary development plan so the car wash would then become consistent enough to be approved.”

RELATED: Controversial car wash owners sue West Chester over plan denial

In July, car wash owner Emilie Parry told the zoning commission she wants to build the “Taj Mahal” of car and pet washes on the south side of Liberty Way near where Steiner + Associates said it plans to build luxury condominiums.

“There are not a lot of car wash options, so we felt we want to give the people in the community more options for car washes,” Parry said. “We want to use the best technology, we want to be different, we want to have the Taj Mahal of car washes, where you don’t feel like you’re doing through this dingy, dark car wash.”

After several neighbors opposed the project, the zoning commission voted 4-1 to deny it. Steiner had proposed luxury condos and other amenities on a parcel near the proposed development.

“There were questions on size, type of business, location, access points, there were numerous inconsistencies that the zoning commission deemed, in totality it added up to being inconsistent,” Wiegand said. “It wasn’t one magic bullet so what they’re doing is saying alright if we put together a preliminary plan that shows a car wash specifically on this site then you basically get to the point where it becomes an approved use.”

After the denial, Parry’s lawyer filed an administrative appeal in Butler County Common Pleas Court, saying the decision was “arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, unlawful, unconstitutional and unsupported by a preponderance of substantial, reliable and probative evidence.”

The case has been on hold since November while “the parties attempt to amicably resolve this case” without court intervention, according to a judicial order.

Wiegand said this move isn’t a result of the lawsuit.

“This is an option that was available to the developer to try and they’re trying it,” Wiegand said.

Adjacent property owners will receive notification this week that the case will be heard at the Zoning Commission meeting Jan. 27. The trustees will have final say on the application in February.

Trustee Board President Mark Welch has not liked the car wash idea from the beginning because, when this development was approved, it was supposed be an upscale, lifestyle development with high-end residential, restaurants, office space and shopping.

“I still stand in support of the previous decision of the zoning commission when it was denied,” Welch said. “And I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the (changes are) that they’re proposing to see what the zoning commission will do next.”

Steiner officials could not be reached for comment.