Car wash on former Fatz Café property gets preliminary approval

Published 1:16 pm Friday, June 7, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

Despite questions from Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission members regarding the need for a second car wash on Overmountain Drive near Walmart and whether it was the best use for the property, preliminary approval was given Tuesday night to a site plan for RipTide Car Wash.

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If given final approval, plans are for the car wash to be constructed on the former site of Fatz Café, 980 Overmountain Drive, after the restaurant building is demolished. The Elizabethton location was one of 18 closed throughout the Southeast on Aug. 23, 2023.

The project includes a 6,605-square-foot building footprint on the 1.8-acre lot, with 59 parking spaces — 29 of which will be queuing spaces with 30 vacuum spaces.

Planning Commissioner Wes Frazier said he did not understand tearing down the former restaurant building when a car wash is already nearby.

“Honestly, I wish I had a great answer for you, but I don’t,” said Matt Lauder, a civil engineer with Bowman Consulting, who represented RipTide Car Wash. “You know, sometimes it’s just a matter of which properties are available. They do a lot of market research and it’s not very uncommon for us to have several car washes in the same vicinity. They usually wind up actually helping each other, kind of like CVS and Walgreens do.”

“My question is, is this the best use you can do for that lot?” Planning Commissioner James Little said. “That’s a prime restaurant area.”

Frazier nodded and uttered a sound of agreement.

“I’m having a hard time,” Little said.

Frazier again signaled his agreement.

Unfortunately, that’s not our responsibility,” said Planning Commission Chair Dena Bass, explaining that the site plan meets the specifications for preliminary approval. “There’s not much that we can do.”

Approval was given by a 3-to-2 vote, with Frazier and Little voting against.

Other actions

Commissioners also:

— approved the Stoney Creek Farmers Market operating at 426 Highway 91 (TCAT) based on the flea market provisions of the Elizabethton City Code. The market will be operational on Saturdays until October, Planning Director Rich DesGroseilliers said.

— approved the Population and Housing plan as submitted. The plan is another component of the General/Comprehensive plan and DesGroseilliers said the staff had not received any comments.

— discussed creating a fence policy ordinance due to issues, such as location and blocking the line of sight at roadways.

— discussed issues with privately-owned waste containers, also involving line-of-sight issues for drivers.