Complaints from neighbors about noise from the customers and equipment of a Michigan car wash might force the business to drastically alter the way it operates. A decision by the local zoning board of appeals to not renew zoning variances granted in 2006 means that its automatic bays cannot be used. City officials were poised to shut the business down by revoking all of its variances, but the city attorney advised against doing so due to a lack of notice to the property owners.

According to local officials, the car wash was granted permission in 2006 to operate only one automatic bay. The property owners built and operated two automatic bays until they closed them pending the hearing before the board. The owners of the car wash offered to reopen the automatic bays without the blowers that were considered to be the source of the noise complained about by neighbors, but the proposal was not accepted by the zoning board.

The chairman of the zoning board claimed that the property owners were not doing enough to comply with their alleged violations of the city’s zoning laws. City officials appeared to be influenced by noise and vandalism complaints filed with the police as well as opposition to the variance from local residents in the form of letters and a petition.

Real estate attorneys know that zoning laws enacted to bring order to land use in a community frequently limit the types of business operations property owners can allow. Where the real estate land use is so restricted as to create an undue hardship on the owner of the land, an application for a variance might be the only solution for an owner.

Source: Press and Guide Newspaper, “DEARBORN: Zoning board orders car wash to keep its noisy automatic bays silent“, Joe Slezak, December 03, 2013

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