Just over half an acre on the northeast corner of The Plaza and Herrin Avenue is in the process of being rezoned to make way for an automated car wash.
See the petition for rezoning here. The land currently has a Sam’s Mart on it, and it’s presumed that the company will put a Sam’s Xpress car wash there. The two companies are jointly owned and based in Matthews.
If Sam’s stays true to other Xpress designs, it could look something like this.
But with the already overwhelming presence of five other car washes in the area and what they call an out-of-place design, residents of the neighborhood have begun fighting the movement with a petition of their own on change.org.
Entitled “Keep Large Suburban Carwashes Out of Our Historic Neighborhood,” the petition is aimed at the Charlotte City Council, their councilwoman Patsy Kinsey, and Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
The petitioners, led by Ryan Sumner, are calling for the city to follow its own Central District Plan, which states that only “sensitively designed” and “pedestrian-oriented” projects are allowed to take place in the area to keep “incompatible non-residential development” from changing Plaza Midwood into something it’s not.
Sumner and over 300 others believe that the “scale and garishly-colorful” design that will come with the project is “visually insensitive, inconsistent and incompatible” with the historic neighborhood. The light and noise pollution that will come with it, Sumner says, will make the homes within a 50- to 100-foot radius practically unlivable, causing property values to take a nosedive.
Moreover, the placement of a national chain takes a 180-degree turn from the well-received businesses already in place and adds to the congestion of the five other car washes in a 1.5-mile radius, they say.
Sumner’s final concern comes in the form of safety – or lack thereof – and vacuum stalls.
“The proposed outdoor seating areas will most certainly become havens for vagrancy and open-air drug-dealing at night,” he writes.
Over 300 people have signed the petition since late last week, many with the same concerns, calling the car wash an eyesore and implying its danger to the neighborhood’s character.
Such notes include (responses have been edited for length and clarity):
“This development brings no new services to the community while occupying land that could be used by entrepreneurs to open small businesses in our neighborhood that bring real value to the Plaza corridor.”
“This will only bring an already struggling neighborhood down.”
“If we wanted to live out in the suburbs, we would. A close-to-city neighborhood like this has no need for such a suburban monstrosity. In addition, City Council has an obligation, in my mind, to follow the District Plan it so laboriously developed.”
“Please keep NoDa and Plaza Shamrock special. The eclectic, artsy and historic nature are what make it so unique. The carwash would take away this atmosphere that convinced me to establish my family here.”
“I am an involved and invested resident of Plaza Shamrock. The lowered property values that would result from a car wash next door, the already over-taxed storm drain infrastructure and watershed issues, the potential of the car wash harboring vagrant (a difficult challenge already for our community) and the traffic problems that would occur offers a small snapshot of my protest against the car wash.”
“It is important to preserve the character of our neighborhoods. I’ve been here since 1967 and Charlotte has ALWAYS been known for poor urban planning. Or as I like to say, “Bend over, you’re about to get urban renewed.””