Although St. Louis Park business owner Alberto Bertomeu got pretty much what he wanted from City Council on Monday night, he still left the meeting swearing and not sure what would be next for him.
Bertomeu operates the Minikahda Mobil Service Station, at 3901 Excelsior Blvd., and he was looking for approval from council to build a state-of-the-art carwash. Such a project would require a zoning change and an adjustment to Bertomeu’s conditional use permit with the city.
The council approved these changes by a 4-2 vote, but with the stipulation the carwash closes at 9 p.m., an hour earlier than Bertomeu requested. As the final vote was made, Bertomeu stormed out of the room—despite having permission to build his carwash.
The owner said closing at 9 p.m. would hurt his business in the summertime, when many people get their cars washed later in the day. After owning the station for 11 years, he said he was frustrated with the council’s unwillingness to work with him, noting that he wasn't sure whether he'd be going ahead with the carwash project with the earlier closing time.
Because the council has to vote on the matter again for procedural reasons, Bertomeu could also potentially push council to amend the time back to 10 p.m. The next council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19.
The earlier closing was proposed by councilwoman Anne Mavity, who said she opposed the project in general but put forth a “friendly amendment” that would require the 9 p.m. closure. Mavity said she was concerned about cars piling up at the carwash late at night, causing noise and light problems. The carwash would be 60 feet from the nearest home.
When other council members allowed the amendment on the table, their hands became tied—voting against the amendment would have meant voting against the entire project.
Bertomeu said the carwash would be built in such a way that cars would empty onto Excelsior Boulevard, away from nearby homes. He added that noise would largely be kept inside the washing bay.
Robb Bader, vice president of Bader Development, which owns the nearby apartments, said he felt comfortable with both the project and working with Bertomeu if issues arose.
“We do believe he’s done enough to mitigate the noise,” Bader said.
Several area residents also voiced support in letters to the council, although one resident expressed concerns with the project. She said noise, traffic and invasive lighting were her main issues.