A group of Vienna residents appeared before the Town Council last week to oppose a major oil company's efforts to rezone a portion of Maple Avenue, Vienna's main road, for a carwash.
Residents of Pleasant Street, which intersects the Texaco gas station at 252 Maple Ave., told the council that the carwash would add traffic to the heavily congested thoroughfare and would plague their street with noise and parking problems.
Texaco plans to renovate the service station on the property and add a small convenience store. Current zoning for the site permits operation of the upgraded gas station and store, but not the carwash.
Vienna's nine-member Planning Commission earlier had recommended denial of the company's initial rezoning request. Commission Chairman Richard Fisher said in a telephone interview last week that Texaco failed to prove that the carwash would be a benefit to the town.
"Texaco said they needed the carwash to make the station economically viable, and they just didn't produce any hard figures to show us why this was so," Fisher said. Fisher added that the noise that would be generated by the carwash is a major concern to residents who live close to the gas station.
Final action on the rezoning is scheduled for Jan. 7.
Texaco said it would spend $500,000 to modernize the corner gas station by improving the upkeep of the area, by installing needed storm drainage and by building a wall between the present commercial zone and the residential zone. The company told the Town Council that the proposed new station could triple current sales of 10,000 gallons of gasoline per month at the station.
That point touched off protests from Pleasant Street residents, who said the station's heavy use would create more delays along the often snarled Maple Avenue.
"How can they Texaco say that they'll triple the sale of gas there, but at the same time, won't increase traffic?" said James Tate, who addressed the council on behalf of Pleasant Street residents. "I just don't see how this is possible."
A representative from Texaco was unavailable for comment late last week.
Fisher said most businesses have only a slight chance of getting a commercial rezoning application approved in the town, especially if the area is near a residential neighborhood.
"There's really very little possibility for a rezoning like that to occur," Fisher said. "We're afraid the character of the town would change."
Pleasant Street resident Peggy Cooper said her neighbors are fearful that Vienna is losing its small-town appeal. Cooper said she is opposing installation of the carwash at the nearby Texaco station because it threatens her street's "feeling of a comfortable enclave."
Robert Curry, Vienna's zoning administrator, said in a telephone interview last week that "Vienna has a carwash within a two-block area of where Texaco wants to put another one."
One longtime Vienna resident aid she was thinking about moving if commercial encroachment continues in her neighborhood.
"I've lived here since 1950 and I'm all for moving out," said Pleasant Street resident Dorothy Bittings. "This place is becoming ridiculous . . . and starting to look like Las Vegas."