Car Wash Approved, PODs Questioned

Car Wash Approved, PODs Questioned

South County Federation takes care of business.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the South County Federation passed a motion approving the construction of a high-end car wash near the corner of Lorton Road and Lorton Market Street, and another that called into question the language of an amendment proposed by county staff regarding the use of temporary portable storage containers on residential properties. The Federation also heard a report from the commander of the West Springfield District Police Station that included an update on the homicide that took place on the Old Lorton Road cut-through on June 24.

In his presentation, Keith Martin, who wants to build the car wash as his own personal investment, noted that the property was granted a special exception years ago that would have allowed it to be home to a fast food restaurant with a drive-through although that exception has since expired.

Concerns have been raised about the flow of traffic through the site and the neighboring plot, for which Exxon Mobil recently submitted an application to build a gas station, although the petroleum company now appears to have had second thoughts. The sites are awkwardly situated, with the bulk of their potential clientele coming from Lorton Road but using the less-traveled Lorton Market Street to leave the properties and return to Lorton Road. Traffic exiting the shopping center across Lorton Market Street also flows primarily back to Lorton Road.

Martin noted that his car wash would generate about one-third of the traffic a fast-food restaurant would have brought, without the littering and loitering that might have been more prevalent at such a business.

Federation member Linwood Gorham pointed out that some higher-volume businesses, such as a 7-Eleven, could build on the plot by right. He said any business would likely be problematic on the site and added, "The best we’re going to be able to do is to get as low a traffic volume as possible."

Put to a vote, the resolution approving the car wash passed by a wide margin.

Ken Richmond of the Crosspointe community presented a resolution questioning a proposed county amendment regarding the use of temporary portable storage containers, commonly known as PODs. Although he wanted to see the units regulated, he said, the county proposal does not address the many circumstances under which they might be used. "The document says you’re supposed to park it in your front lawn," said Richmond. "If you’re in a condo, how do you do that?" He noted that many planned communities have their own deed restrictions, which the proposal also does not take into account.

Mount Vernon Planning Commissioner Earl Flanagan pointed out that the county had repeatedly introduced such an amendment, only to have it called into question.

"We have people actually living in these things," said Flanagan. "It’s really gotten to be a problem that we need to start doing something about right away." He told Federation members that if they opposed the amendment, they should attend the next county meeting on the subject and give their input.

The resolution questioning the county amendment passed by a unanimous voice vote.

Capt. Bruce Ferguson of the West Springfield District Police Station updated the Federation on the homicide behind the former Lorton Prison warden’s house. On June 24, the body of a 19-year-old Los Angeles resident, originally from El Salvador, was found on the grounds of the house. He had been shot to death.

"We don’t know if his death was gang-related, but we do believe he is gang-related," said Ferguson, adding that the victim, named Jose Romero, had been wearing an MS-13 belt buckle. Ferguson said police believe Romero was in Los Angeles within 48 hours prior to his death. As far as he knew, he said, police still did not have a confirmed suspect and had not located Romero’s family, but he assured that the investigation was ongoing.