Saturday, March 17, 2007

Complaint sparks review of 20-year-old permit

A neighbor’s complaint has triggered a series of ordinance violations for the Northport Car Wash and a revisiting of the special use permit granted to the business July 6, 1989.
The permit was issued to then-owner DNAL, Ltd. of Bevin Road in Eaton’s Neck for the 1.26-acre property owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at 402 Fort Salonga Road on the east side of Elwood Road just north of Ripley Drive.
The very narrow property, zoned I-5 or general industry since 1934, also needed a side yard variance to permit a 20-foot side yard on one side and a five-foot side yard on the other instead of the normally required 25-foot side yards. Prior to the car wash opening, the site had been empty since 1981.
At the 1989 hearing, a car wash construction expert testified that the entire operation could take place inside the building and the noise from blowers used to dry the vehicles would be no louder than that caused by street activity. The Town granted the permit and variances with conditions.
In April 2005 the Town’s Department of Public Safety received a complaint from a nearby resident of noise and violations of the permit, according to a letter sent to ZBA Chair Christopher Modelewski from Town Ordinance Inspector Philip Colwell. Mr. Colwell said that he found the source of the “offensive noise” was a central vacuum installed outside near the northwest corner of the building and several air nozzles used to blow water off of cars. Neither were on the approved site plan not the proposed site plan presented to the ZBA.
On May 13, 2005, Mr. Colwell said he gave the car wash President Michael Dusold copies of those plans and “I told him compliance was required,” the letter reads.
When Mr. Colwell returned to the property June 3, 2005 he found the conditions had not changed. Summons were issued for violations of Chapter 198, Section 122-A and –B, which read that, “It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to fail, neglect or refuse to fully comply with any condition or requirement imposed by the Huntington Town Board, Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals as a result of any land use or zoning action, decision or approval,” and “It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to deviate in any manner from a site plan filed with and/or approved by the Department of Engineering Services, Department of Planning and Environment, Town Board, Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals,” respectively.
Mr. Dusold appeared in 3rd District Court and pleaded guilty to 198-122A. He was given a conditional discharge requiring that he cease of all machinery outside the building and no fine.
A year later, on March 22, 2006 Mr. Colwell observed that there was another violation in that there was a boat on a trailer placed on the property and it was being used to advertise a boat dealer on Route 25A. Also, Mr. Colwell observed that the vacuum was back in operation. The court was notified of the violation and enforcement proceedings were initiated in 3rd District Court again.
In his letter, Mr. Colwell also noted that, while the original special use permit was for an automatic car wash, it is now a hand wash, as is advertised on the business’s sign. In addition, it was only to have a total of eight permanent employees and the entire business was to be conducted inside the building. “I observed more than eight employees washing, drying, and vacuuming vehicles and the vacuuming was being done outside.”
In the interim, the car wash has been taken over by Nat Kaufman who said that, while he doesn’t want to comment, he is taking steps to mend the situation.
“I really don’t think I should talk about it right now,” he said. “I can’t really say anything. It can only hurt me if I say the wrong thing. All I can say is we’re going to do the right thing and everyone will be happy. It’s going to cost me money but I want to do the right thing and we’re almost there. And that’s all I can say.”
So far two public hearings regarding the special use permit have been adjourned, one on July 27, 2006 and the most recent on February 15, 2007 as Mr. Kaufman works to take action, according to a letter sent to Mr. Modelewski from Mr. Kaufman’s attorney Gary Weintraub of Caputi, Weintraub and Neary.
“As I explained to you, I am gathering information which will demonstrate to your satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the other members f the Board that the alleged noise problem at my client’s business is in fact attributable to the drying blowers rather than the vacuums. I will provide you with information as to state of the art equipment, which will hopefully abate the noise generated by now antiquated equipment presently being used on the premises. The installation of such equipment would be at a considerable expense to my client but if doing so could bring this matter to an amicable conclusion, then I am certain my client would be willing to make that expenditure.”
A new date for a BZA hearing has not yet been set.

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