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'This car wash thing is a nightmare': Glendale residents push against dealership car wash proposal

Neighbors packed the plan commission meeting at city hall Wednesday to oppose plans, despite car dealership taking numerous steps to address concerns

GLENDALE, Mo. — A group of residents in Glendale took concerns about a proposed dealership car wash to a local plan commission meeting at city hall on Wednesday evening.

The red sign in Barbara Hecks' yard in her Glendale subdivision is reflective of the frustration she and her neighbors have been feeling.

"It's a great neighborhood. It's a quiet street. This car wash thing is kind of a nightmare,” Hecks said.

The "Stop The Carwash" campaign outlines a slew of reasons why residents think an expansion to Glendale Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram on Manchester Road is a bad idea.

"You know it's going to be really loud. We've heard and got video recordings of the exact same car wash in different areas. The noise pollution and taking down trees. It's just really going to hurt the neighborhood if it goes through," Hecks added.

The debate has lasted for two years.

The car wash would be right next to their homes and a condominium complex.

“[The owners] kind of have a track record for promising greenery back there I think in 2011, and it wasn't done until a couple of years ago,” Hecks said.

"Just ask yourselves, would I want this in my backyard?” Kevin Kissling, a concerned neighbor, said. 

"The trees, sound and the quality of life are something that's very important not only for this issue but for the future of Glendale," Stephanie Sigala, another concerned neighbor, said. 

"It's not rocket-science. It doesn't belong in a neighborhood," voiced another concerned resident. 

"The plan is to put a Ballwin-esque, Ellisville-esque, St. Peters-esque auto plex in the middle of your town and my town, and it ain't right," said another.

The dealership, Glendale Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, located at 10070 Manchester Road in Glendale, has been in business since 1967. A dealership spokesperson told 5 On Your Side the plan is to use the car wash for customers who come to get service and purchase new vehicles. 

The problem is that the back of the business is adjacent to the backyards of homes along Brookside Drive.    

Jenni Belding, the project manager, says the car dealer has been working since April 2021 to address objections, hosting "multiple meetings with neighbors, both group meetings and private individual meetings to discuss the proposed project, how it would affect the neighbors, and [hear] any concerns they might have. While many Brookside neighbors didn’t attend, the neighbors that did attend and shared their concerns allowed us to modify our proposed plan before presenting it to the city."

Opponents say the sound from the car wash will be a nuisance, a claim that Belding says is simply untrue. 

She says the planned size of the car wash building has been increased by 37 feet, allowing for the cars to be washed inside the building more than 18 feet from each of the overhead doors. This, she says, will significantly buffer the noise. Additionally, the dealership provided 5 On Your Side with other steps taken to limit impact on the neighborhood and to demonstrate the commitment of the business to work with area residents: 

  • The design of the fence at the property line has been updated to a “bufftech” style fence. This style of fence offers more sound protection than the existing chain link fence. It's the same type of fence installed between residential and commercial property in St. Louis County.
  • McClure Engineering was hired to conduct a complete sound study. The firm measured the current sounds at the property line of both Glendale Gardens Condominium Community, as well as the property line at Brookside Drive. McClure Engineering then overlaid the sound ratings from the car wash equipment, including blowers, to predict the noise pollution of the car wash to the neighbors. All levels fell below St. Louis County Code for noise pollution between commercial and residential property.
  • Dealer contacted each Brookside neighbor and promised that if after the car wash was installed, the blowers on the car wash could be heard, they would be turned off permanently.
  • Glendale Chrysler hired Loomis Associates, landscape architects and planners, to take photos from each of the neighbors' backyards and created photo-enhanced renderings of what this project would look like from their backyards after completion - both with the trees removed and with limiting the number of trees that would be removed. 
  • In July 2022, each neighbor received an invitation to visit a car wash exactly like the one planned. Since the car was is located more than 20 miles from Glendale, the dealership included a $25 gas card and a token for a free car wash.

As for the removal of trees, Belding says the original plans submitted were to remove nearly two dozen and build a retaining wall to level the ground and plant back a more sustainable green space buffer zone than the existing. "We heard the neighbors’ concerns and withdrew the plans to redevelop the green space buffer zone."

Belding contends that Glendale Chrysler has "accommodated every concern that the neighbors have had and met them far past halfway. The end result will be a car wash that is much quieter and visually pleasing than the one we had when each of the residents moved in. Combine that with our new closed service department, and we firmly believe that we have vastly improved the Glendale community." She adds, "We understand that change is always stressful, but we have always operated our dealership with the neighbors in mind and have stepped up for Glendale and Kirkwood whenever they needed our help."

Still, some homeowners question if another car wash in the area is needed. "We've identified the fact that there are multiple car washes within a two-mile radius that they can partner with, thereby saving themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital,” said Kevin Kissling, another resident.

At the commission meeting on May 31, members voted unanimously to refer the matter to the Glendale Board of Alderman, which will ultimately decide what happens next with the car wash. A date for a BOA meeting has not yet been announced.

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