New Car Wash Bid Denied in Woodland Park

Champion XPress Plan Sent Back to the Drawing Board Following Tie Vote

Trevor Phipps

A contested bid for a new car wash business in Woodland Park, proposed by a national company, has suffered a preliminary death.

As a result, the issue, surrounding a proposal by the Champion Xpress Carwash company, which does “automated, tunnel” car washes in Colorado and many other nearby states, may get revisited again by the planning commission. Or, under a worse-case scenario, it could be headed to court.

This followed a recent council decision that ended in a dead heat, meaning that the applicant must begin the process from scratch again. Opinions were mixed regarding the project.

Last month, a lengthy debate commenced over the possibility of adding another car wash to Woodland Park near the Walmart. At issue was the request to change the planned urban development (PUD) agreement regarding the lot area, to include an automatic car wash.


Originally the planned unit development (PUD) request only allowed for a dining and drive-thru establishment, but the company, which operates a number of fully automated, tunnel car wash outlets across the country, wanted to alter the PUD for the site. During the original discussion, several issues were raised including the possibility of high water usage numbers that could put a strain on city resources.


The issue was recently brought back to council after the leaders received advice from their lawyer. The PUD amendment then failed with a 3-3 vote after Councilwoman Carrol Harvey recused herself from the discussion.


As a result, the car wash PUD application will have to be sent back to the planning commission to be reworked until it can come back to city council. With water usage as the main concern, the applicant would most likely have to address that and other issues that were previously raised.

The council, in an earlier meeting, has asked whether they could put a stipulation on the proposed car wash that stated that the business’ recycling system had to be functioning for it to operate.


But this requirement was questioned legally since other car washes did not have that stipulation. Questions were also raised about traffic impacts.


In recent weeks, the city attorney did research to determine the council’s options, if it opted to approve the project. The attorney sent a letter out to all of the council detailing the findings.



When the issue came up on the agenda during their Sept. 7 session, Mayor Pro Tem Kellie Case moved to approve the ordinance, supporting the PUD amendment change and the car wash business bid, submitted by the Champion Xpress Carwash company.


During the meeting, the city attorney addressed the question of whether or not the city could take water usage into consideration when deciding whether or not to approve the PUD amendment. He didn’t believe this factor could be considered, based on the city’s code.


After the motion was made, Councilman Robert Zuluaga made a few public comments. Zuluaga brought up the fact that the water usage could change from 15 gallons per car if the Champion reclamation system is operating, to 95 gallons per car if it is not.


“Although I support the idea of looking at a change in the PUD, I think it really needs to go back to the planning commission and not just our utilities department but a consultant to look at how do we protect our water?” Zuluaga said. “If we navigate that ground first, then we can have this reintroduced and we can look at whether we want to change the PUD. I would like to see it go back to planning and I would like to see staff recommendations on how we can protect the city’s water usage.”


Case pointed out that water usage can be expensive, and that the business would be motivated to keep water usage down to control their expenses. She cited a “natural incentive” for the business to keep water usage low, and that she had faith in the Champion Express business owners.


Councilwoman Catherine Nakai said that her main concerns had to do with noise and traffic, and not so much water usage. “I use that intersection every day and it is a nightmare now and it is not going to get any better,” Nakai said. “I think that it is better suited as the way it is currently planned as a restaurant then it is to make it a car wash.”


When the car wash vote was rendered, council members Frank Connors, Nakai, and Zuluaga all voted “no,” while and the mayor, Case, and Neal voted “yes.” Since the vote was a tie, the PUD amendment failed.

But this verdict against the car wash bid is not a done deal.

LaBarre said that since the council went against the recommendations of their lawyer, the applicant could choose to either send the issue back to the planning commission, to devise another alternative plan. The possibility also exists that the issue could be headed to court.