The contentious Newton car wash proposal, a business deal dropped and a new task for city staff

A rezoning application for a potential car wash protested by the surrounding community may have prompted city council to look more closely at how to redevelop a Newton neighbourhood.

Residents around King George Boulevard and 84 Avenue stood up at a public hearing last Monday protesting a possible rezoning to build a car wash they fear would bring a cross-section of issues into their backyards. City council sent the application back to city staff for closer inspection.

Businesses in the community are unusual so city council was reluctant to let the car wash application go forward without careful thought. But the seed of an idea was planted with the business, that maybe King George needs to be looked at closer in terms of how more commerce could fit into the family-friendly community.

Community concerns about a car wash

From crime and prostitution to traffic and future development impediments, locals surrounding the potential car wash location brought a full combo of concerns forward. Who knew a car wash could be so contentious?

Three locals addressed council directly and a total of 199 showed up to disagree with the rezoning.

“This project is premature. There needs to be more discussion in regards to doing better planning,” said Tanvir Dhaliwal who gathered 135 signatures from the neighbourhood petitioning against the car wash development.

Other concerns included potential for prostitution and drugs moving into the neighbourhood from surrounding areas that already carry that burden.

One local complained that her nephew is worried about crossing the street to get to school if traffic increases because of the car wash.

The idea of prostitution resulting from a car wash taking root in the neighbourhood might seem like a stretch, but CNEWS reported a car wash cover-up for prostitution this September, although I’d be surprised if that isn’t a one-off operation.

I guess the other angle on that is that more cars driving through could make the corner a good pick-up spot for prostitutes or maybe the empty parking lot would make a good stop for a quickie, but there’s no word on whether this would be a 24-hour car wash and how that would play in to this unique location.

Whatever the complaint, Coun. Barinder Rasode said the obvious lack of consultation with the community is a problem. “I do believe the applicant has not done their due diligence in terms of consultation with the community,” she said, adding that the number of residents showing up to oppose the car wash proves that.

A business deal gone sour 

Dhaliwal said he had tried to go into business with the car wash developer, Andy Aadmi, but the plans did not go forward when Aadmi did not return his calls.

Dhaliwal introduced his complaints about the car wash with an anecdote about the sour business deal. He said he had originally been approached by Aadmi who wanted to buy into Dhaliwal’s neighbouring property to develop it. When Dhaliwal called to reciprocate the request and asked for more involvement in Aadmi’s property, he said his call was never returned.

The next thing Dhaliwal knew, there was a notice in the mail inviting him to a consultation about a future car wash.

“We are concerned that the application tonight may impede our ability to properly develop the properties to the best,” he said.

During the public hearing, Aadmi stood up at the mic and responded to Dhaliwal. He said he never returned his calls because Dhaliwal was asking for too much out of the budding deal.

A property advertised as perfect for rezoning

The proposed car wash across from Bear Creek Park was listed under Cushman & Wakefield at the end of April this year. Under the listing, there was a recommendation to rezone the property since the current zoning “permits only a narrow range of service commercial uses designed to provide neighbourhood commercial services in a residential area.”

Potential purchasers were encouraged to discuss rezoning with the City of Surrey.

Andy Aadmi has done just that under A & A Construction.

Does the zoning at King George Boulevard and 84 Avenue need a facelift?

City council motioned to send the application back to city staff to see how, with better planning, a business like this will fit in the community. Councillors were also interested to see how the rest of the area could be lookedat overall in terms of businesses.

“That site is a very tough site in terms of being able to develop,” said Coun. Tom Gill. “I think that this is an interesting opportunity for us to improve the network on King George in terms of, not only beautification, but to really look at what kind of businesses are offering services to our community along that stretch.”

Coun. Linda Hepner supported the referral of the current rezoning application to city staff. “If there are options to better develop that site other than a car wash, I am in complete support of that,” she said.

It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this eventually. Does this area need some attention? Is it ready for change?

As a side-note, this song was playing through my head the entire hearing after rezoning popped up:

“Car Wash” by Rose Royce

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