WATERVILLE — The City Council will reconsider its decision to deny a request to rezone a parcel on Kennedy Memorial Drive where a 24-hour car wash is proposed.

In remarks to the council at the beginning of the meeting Tuesday night, Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-District 4, said the council’s vote last month against rezoning the parcel was a “tragedy” that encouraged the perception that Waterville was a bad city to start a business in.

“We are again emboldening our critics to say, ‘Waterville is business-unfriendly,'” Mayhew said.

Jerald Hurdle, an osteopathic doctor, is proposing to build an automatic, touchless car wash at 145 Kennedy Memorial Drive, the location of the former A.L. Weeks & Sons auto body shop. The Planning Board, at a meeting in June, recommended the council rezone the area to allow Hurdle to build the Yellow Dog Car Wash. The board reviewed a site plan for the business last month but delayed voting on the proposal.

The car wash has drawn fire from people in a nearby residential neighborhood on Merryfield Avenue, who said they are worried about the possible noise, pollution, traffic and the late hours of operation.

The council voted 4-3 against rezoning the property at its July 21 meeting.


In his remarks to the council, Mayhew said that councilors had acted like a “de facto” planning board and hadn’t given the Planning Board the time it needed to do a full review of the car wash plan and come up with a compromise that worked for the business and residents before making a decision on the rezoning.

He could see “devastation and frustration of epic magnitude” on Hurdle’s face when Hurdle watched the council vote against rezoning last month, Mayhew said.

Mayor Nick Isgro made a formal recommendation that the council reconsider its vote. Denying Hurdle’s rezoning request was “premature” without allowing the Planning Board to go through the site plan review process, Isgro said. The council owed it to all the people who were thinking about opening a business in the city to make sure it went through the process correctly, Isgro added.

Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, said he recognized people were upset, but measures could be taken to deal with the concerns neighbors had with the business.

But John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, who represents the area, said that residents had “spoken loud and clear” that they were against the project. The zone was residential and should stay that way, O’Donnell contended.

The council voted 4-2 to reconsider the rezoning request. Mayhew, White, Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, and Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, voted in favor. White and Rancourt-Thomas voted against the request the first time.


O’Donnell and Councilor Rosemary Winslow, D-Ward 3, voted against reconsidering. Bushee did not attend the meeting.

The council then moved to table its new vote on rezoning until its Aug. 18 meeting. Before the vote, White acknowledged that he had voted against rezoning the first time but changed his mind after learning more details.

“We’re talking about a car wash here, not a strip club,” he said.

O’Donnell reacted angrily to White’s comment. “We’re talking about a neighborhood here!” he shot back.

Five councilors voted to move the item to the Aug. 18 agenda, but O’Donnell said he would abstain from voting. “I’m upset,” he said.

O’Donnell voted against the motion after he was reminded by town attorney Bill Lee that under the city charter, councilors were not allowed to abstain from votes.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239


Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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