A Goo-Goo car wash is right for Clintonville -- just not right on top of one of the ravines for which the neighborhood is famous, area commission members decided last week.
Following a presentation and discussion that took up all but a few minutes of a two-hour monthly meeting last week, four Clintonville Area Commission members voted against rezoning the site of a former White Castle restaurant at 2725 N. High St.
None voted in favor of the proposal.
The other four commission members on hand for the meeting all abstained.
Jason Meek of District 7 was not present.
The decision came after attorney David L. Hodge of Smith and Hale LLC, and J. Carter Bean, a local architect, outlined ways in which Goo-Goo 3 Minute Express Wash would be an asset on the 1.4-acre site between Patrick J's and the check-cashing business that took over after Hustler Hollywood closed.
"This use doesn't exist in Clintonville," Hodge said.
"We're trying to give it a little more character than certainly a typical car wash," Bean told CAC members.
In the end, the residents who argued against having a car wash on land that sits overtop a ravine and stream held sway.
Dana K.J. Bagwell, chairwoman of the zoning and variance committee, said more than 100 residents had contacted her regarding the car wash, and all were against the idea. Because of that, Bagwell said, she decided to revoke her support of the rezoning, a position she took earlier in the week during a meeting of her committee.
In fact, Bagwell said hers was the tie-breaking vote. The committee members present had split, two in favor, two against and one abstention, before she cast the deciding vote.
"I think it's a great idea," Bagwell said in changing her stance. "I think it's a beautiful building."
However, she added, commission members are elected to represent the wishes of their constituents.
"I feel obligated to go with what the community is saying," she said.
After a motion by Nancy Kuhel of District 2 to postpone a ruling until next month failed to garner enough support, Bagwell was joined in voting against the rezoning by Rob Wood of District 1, Kristopher Keller of District 8 and District 9's D Searcy.
Abstaining from the vote were Kuhel, Elizabeth "Libby" Wetherholt of District 3, Randy Ketcham of District 6 and Daniel B. Miller, the chairman of the commission and representative for District 4.
Keller called the proposal a "beautiful plan" and praised the proponents for trying to ensure the car wash would not be harmful to the environment.
"The problem is, it's the wrong place," he added, noting the parcel sits over a ravine and waterway that should never have been filled in more than a half-century ago.
"I think it's a good business," Miller said in urging his fellow commission members to turn the rezoning down. "I think it could possibly thrive in Clintonville.
"There's not a compelling reason for us to deviate from the principles we've already adopted."
"The property's going to redevelop," Hodge told the CAC. "We firmly believe that what we are proposing will result in a redevelopment that's better here than what could occur. We feel like we've done a lot to make this right."
Goo-Goo 3 Minute Express Wash, which took on its current name in 1972, is a 31-store operation in seven states that's been in business for 68 years. Not once has the company been found in violation of environmental rules, co-owner Andrew Crum told CAC members.
"I hope that when the application is denied, the business owner will look for another location in the community," Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum President Mike McLaughlin said. "It's just the wrong location for this."
"I urge you to deny the request to rezone and degrade this property," said Crestview Road resident John B. Krygier, who identified himself as a professor of geography at Ohio Wesleyan University.
"A car wash on this site would be a detriment to the ravine," said Dick Brown of the Glen Echo Neighborhood Association.
Because the property, currently owned by White Castle System Inc. and valued at $375,400 by the Franklin County Auditor's Office, straddles the line between Clintonville and the University District, the members of that area commission also will make a recommendation on the rezoning.
University Area Commission members have put off making a decision until Dec. 18, Miller said, although it's possible the rezoning could come before the Board of Zoning Adjustment as early as Dec. 12.
Columbus City Council will consider the rulings of both commissions before making a final decision on the rezoning.