Water management woes for proposed Cranberry Highway car wash?

Sep 13, 2021

Officials are concerned that an automated car wash proposed for Cranberry Highway could create water management problems along one of the town’s main roadways, according to a discussion at the Planning Board’s Sept. 13 meeting. 

The proposed “Reign Car Wash” is planned for a lot currently used for parking by the Ocean State Job Lot and for the site of the old 99 Restaurant on Cranberry Highway.

The car wash would include a single 150-foot wash tunnel, free vacuuming stations and 28 parking spots. It would be located just under a mile west of the existing Soft Touch Car Wash, also on Cranberry Highway.

“Car washes have a tendency of collecting a lot of water,” said board member Michael Baptiste, noting that it could mean that a lot of water would be let “into the streets.” “That’s a low spot area. [...] It floods if it rains now.” 

Baptiste acknowledged that the board did not yet know how the ongoing construction on Cranberry Highway would affect the water management needs on the site. 

“That’s something we should look at real closely,” Baptiste said. 

The project is currently being deliberated by the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Planning Board Chair Richard Swenson made a note to require that the applicant “must have provisions for water management of the premises.” 

This was not the first time concerns were raised about what impact a car wash would have on Cranberry Highway, where water and flooding is concerned.  

At a past meeting, Charlie Rowley, an engineer who frequently consults for the town, expressed some concerns about the project. He took issue with the landscaping plans and the number of trees on the site. He was also concerned about the company’s stormwater management plan. The plans seemed to direct excess water off the site onto Cranberry Highway, which could cause problems, he said.

The design choices made for Reign Car Wash were also the subject of some discussion. Baptiste encouraged the applicant to improve the building aesthetically. 

“It’s terrible,” he said of the current designs, prompting some laughter from the audience. “This isn’t Las Vegas.”

Discussions of the proposal will continue at a future Planning Board meeting.