WATERVILLE — People who live near a proposed car and dog wash at 145 Kennedy Memorial Drive pleaded with the Planning Board on Monday not to approve a site plan for the business until there is proof it won’t exceed the noise levels spelled out in the city’s noise ordinance.

The board postponed voting on the site plan for Yellow Dog Car Wash until Aug. 10, as three of seven board members were absent from the meeting and the rest were prohibited from voting without a quorum.

The dog and car wash is being proposed by Jerald Hurdle, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, on the site of the former A.L. Weeks & Sons auto body shop. The City Council on Tuesday will consider taking a final vote to change the zoning on the site to allow for the business.

Several neighbors on nearby Merryfield Avenue said they were concerned about noise levels from the business, which would be open 24 hours a day.

Nick Champagne, an engineer for A.E. Hodsdon Engineers, which represents Hurdle, said sound buffer boards would be built inside the equipment room of the business to decrease noise levels. Board member Alicia Barnes, who filled in as board chairman Monday because Chairman David Geller was absent, said the blowers in the vacuum cleaners alone would be 94 decibels, according to the manufacturer’s website. The city’s noise ordinance stipulates that commercial entities produce no more than 65 decibels from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and no more than 55 decibels from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The discussion prompted board member Scott Workman to ask if there is a similar car wash in Maine that could be checked for noise levels; Champagne said there is, in the Brunswick area.

But board member Paul Lussier said he “didn’t want to go looking at some other car wash.” Either the project meets the requirements of the site plan or it doesn’t he said, and he wanted to move from the noise issue and talk about other aspects of the site review.

“I’m all set with their complying with the noise,” said Lussier, a former code enforcement officer.

Champagne said Hurdle was proposing a 5-foot hedge row and an 8-foot fence at the property lines, but Workman said the city doesn’t want the Berlin Wall in a neighborhood.

“Is it going to look like the Berlin Wall?” he asked.

Hurdle then proposed to residents that he not even build a fence if he can comply with the noise requirements.

“If we can meet the ordinance, do away with the fence,” he said.

Merryfield Avenue resident Stanley Theriault asked how the ordinance will be enforced if the doors to the car wash malfunction and will not close. He also wanted to know what would happen in the winter if the blowers drip water and it freezes. He said there already is a problem on the Kennedy Memorial Drive hill when there is a lot of ice and snow.

“What is going to be the effect on that road?” he asked.

David Caron, who owns property on Merryfield, was adamant that the developer prove to the board that he can install sufficient noise buffers.

“It should, it might, maybe, possibly, it should work — that’s not good enough,” Caron said. “They should have to show you folks they can meet that.”

Workman asked City Engineer Greg Brown who from City Hall would go to the site to take decibel readings on weekends if someone complains about noise.

“They ring to an empty phone,” Brown replied.

Board member Jessica Laliberte asked whether the Police Department has the authority to enforce the noise ordinance. Caron, a police detective, said an officer would respond to see if the noise level is reasonable, but the department does not have a decibel meter.

He said all that he was asking for was proof the car and dog wash would not exceed decibel levels, but Lussier said he didn’t think the board had the authority to demand that proof.

“You can say ‘No,'” Caron retorted.

Other residents stood to speak, asking why the car wash had to be open after 9 p.m. Residents get up early to go to work and don’t want noise in the neighborhood at night, they said.

“Is this going to be something that needs to stay open past 9 o’clock?” Workman asked.

At that, Lussier said he didn’t want to talk about the hours-of-operation issue. The city, he said, has an ordinance, and the developer must comply with it. His comment angered Theriault.

“Why don’t we build a car wash in your backyard?” he said to Lussier.

Lussier said his job on the board is to make sure ordinances are met.

“We can’t make it up as we go — that’s all,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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