A group of Greenwood residents are concerned about the fate of the Lotus Garden restaurant property.
The Lotus Garden Chinese restaurant on 49 Mercator Drive, Greenwood, is closing at the end of the month. Kopetsky Auto Wash, a local company, is set to tear down the building and construct a new car wash on the property.
The car wash would be nearly an exact replica of its main location on State Road 135. To build on this property, which is in Old Town Greenwood, Kopetsky sent several zoning variance requests to the Greenwood Board of Zoning Appeals.
The board approved all the requests at its Monday night meeting by a vote of 4-1. But a handful of nearby residents showed up at the meeting to protest the car wash project, resulting in more than an hour of debate.
First on the agenda was a use variance because Greenwood’s zoning for large commercial buildings does not explicitly include car washes, according to city documents. Car washes are typically zoned as commercial medium, but this property is already zoned commercial large, said Dale Davis, planning director for the City of Greenwood.
There were also six development and dimensional variance requests regarding a large pole sign, exterior building materials and the size of the car wash tunnels and pay stations, city documents show.
Six residents living in the neighborhood behind the Lotus Garden property and the shopping center spoke at the meeting. All of them were concerned about an increase in traffic from the car wash. Mercator Drive is the only access road in and out of the neighborhood.
Tracey Champion, a school bus driver and resident in the subdivision, told the board traffic is already bad in the area since the roundabout on Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue opened in 2018. She is concerned the situation would get worse with a car wash, she said.
“It is already horrible trying to go in and out of that neighborhood, and for the school bus, it’s going to be worse,” Champion said.
Roxanne Ballard brought a petition signed by the residents in the subdivision. A car wash is not a good fit for the Old Town area, she said.
“For those of you who want this car wash, move. Go to Carmel, go to Zionsville,” Ballard said. “Old Town Greenwood, leave us alone.”
Melanie Marsh asked the city to consider adding sidewalks to Mercator Drive, or reduce the speed limit. Her children, and many other children, play in the street in the neighborhood because there are no sidewalks , she said.
“That’s just a thought that I wanted to put out there about kids dying,” Marsh said.
Greenwood City Council member Ezra Hill, who represents that area in the city, was at the meeting as well. He told the board he likes the car wash, but said the Lotus Garden property is the wrong place for it with traffic. He asked the board to reject the variance requests because of that concern.
The city does not necessarily have a say in what businesses can go where, unless they need a rezone or variance approved, for example. The board of zoning appeals can reject variance requests if there is proof a variance would be detrimental to the city, but the board does not get to choose what to do based on if they like the car wash or not, said Kenneth Knartzer, board president.
Knartzer asked Davis what other businesses could go on the property without requiring any variance or zoning approval from the city. Davis said restaurants with drive-throughs, big box stores, or delivery centers could build on the property without requiring a variance from the city, based on zoning standards. Those businesses would likely cause more traffic problems than a car wash, Davis said.
Brian Tuohy, an attorney representing Kopetsky, brought a traffic study conducted by A&F Engineering to address the residents’ concerns. The study concluded that a…