Council rejects plan for oil changes and car wash – St. Louis Call Newspapers
St. Louis County Council has rejected an oil change facility on the corner of Lindbergh and Tesson Ferry and a car wash on Gravois Road, a strong opposition to the proliferation of auto-focused businesses and car washes along South County’s main highways.
On April 27, the council unanimously voted for a resolution with binding powers to reject the recommendation of the district planning commission An oil change facility at the former Taco Bell site at 5554 S. Lindbergh Blvd. that was abandoned in late 2016 when Taco Bell established a new site at 6080 S. Lindbergh.
Opposition to both projects was led by Ernie Trakas, Councilor for 6th Ward, R-Oakville, who said the area had too many oil change sites – both operational and abandoned – and car washes.
At the same meeting, the council voted 7-0 on a binding resolution rejecting the zoning of a car wash operated by Club Carwash LLC on Gravois Road in Affton.
“It’s no secret that I oppose this use. I’ve heard from dozens of residents who live near this location and don’t want this use in their community,” said Trakas of oil changes in Lindbergh and Tesson. “I don’t see this as a path, form, or positive gain for this community.”
A franchisee of Take 5, a statewide oil change company headquartered in Florida, applied for conditional use permission to open its first location in the St. Louis area on the three-acre site on the busy corner of Lindbergh and Tesson Ferry . The planning committee recommended zoning after a public hearing on December 7th, but the council’s Public Improvements Committee recommended that zoning be rejected on April 13th at the urging of Trakas and neighbors who want a fast food restaurant there again.
County planner Mel Wilson explained why the commission and the county planning department felt that Take 5 was an appropriate use for the site: the 1,500-square-foot, single-story building would be in the same location as the Taco Bell with the same edition and 14 parking spaces. A new sidewalk would be built along the Tesson Ferry and more landscaping would be added in place of the pavement. The opening times are 7 a.m. at the earliest and 8 p.m. at the latest, seven days a week.
Take 5’s business model offers a drive-thru service that has helped the company thrive even during the pandemic, said Beacon Engineering engineer Troy Carter, who worked on the website for the developer on April 13.
“You’re going into the bay, you’ll be in your car the whole time,” Carter said. “It’s COVID friendly – you stay in your car, customers drive in, they get their oil changes, they drive out. … This is not your father’s Jiffy Lube. This is a new brand that cares a lot about its image and wants to be good neighbors. “
Under pressure from Trakas, Carter said he didn’t know where the company is headquartered or where the owner lives, but said it was probably in Florida, like him.
No one spoke out against the CUP on December 7th, and representatives from Take 5 contacted Trakas but said he had not called them back.
“We think this is a slam dunk for us, we thought we’d go in,” Carter said. “My client has invested a lot of time and money and we would love to be good neighbors … take a free site that is a little annoying to be honest and improve it.”
However, two residents have spoken out against the project in the Public Improvements Committee, which is made up of council members who deal in more detail with zoning.
Joan Smith-Lauer said she lived in Concord Village for 25 years and disapproved of interference by a non-state corporation on a premier corner like Lindbergh and Tesson, where she discovered “one of our great St. Louisans,” the late Dave Sinclair has a dealership location across the street, but there are four other oil change locations within half a mile.
The old Taco Bell sign and lot on the corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Tesson Ferry Road. (Photo by Erin Achenbach)
“How did this company in Florida decide to go to this corner of Concord Village that this gentleman called – and I refuse – Smith-Lauer said. “This is not a commercial park, this is a residential area – it’s Concord Village. It’s one of the oldest little villages around St. Louis. People like to live here…. This is in no way a “slam dunk” in my opinion. … We pride ourselves on it. … It’s a prominent corner, I want to call it the gem in the Concord Village area – We don’t need another oil change connection. The foliage and trees on this property … look pretty good to me. … And the man who wants to put it in there isn’t even on that call, I find that kind of insignificant. “
Concord Township Republican Committeewoman Chris Struckhoff said, “It just doesn’t seem right for an oil lubrication workstation, it seems an inappropriate cornerstone, and it’s been a fast food restaurant for decades.”
The real estate agent for the property, Patrick Willett of Pace Properties, is from South County and said he worked with the Walz family, the local landowners, for three years to find a tenant.
“We have notified hundreds of national, local and regional retailers through this website and I have to tell you we were under-challenged,” he said, noting that fast food restaurants were the first to be contacted and everyone said also no because of other locations nearby or because of the median that prevents anyone from turning into the site directly from Lindbergh, which is also the reason Taco Bell left.
The former Taco Bell on the corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Tesson Ferry Road. (Photo by Erin Achenbach)
“We don’t like sitting on vacant lots and paying property taxes,” Willett said. “Finally we have a use – a stand-up use from a stand-up company. No matter where they are based, they create jobs here. … We owe it to them not to bring them to justice. … He brings no fearful, dangerous use. … It’s not up to the county and it’s not up to us to dictate whether or not this is a good business decision. “
But 3rd District Councilor Tim Fitch, R-Fenton, who represents nearby areas in Concord and said he had also received complaints about the project, didn’t like the idea that the county couldn’t object. He noted that he was “very business-friendly,” but when facilities like this close down, the community is left with the vacancies.
“What we’ve heard from a lot of community members since the beginning is that they don’t want another oil change spot in their neighborhood,” said Fitch. “… I make a difference with you about how many of these we can have in the church and why we shouldn’t mind – that’s it.”