Car wash variance request splits Baxter council 3-2

A proposal to waive a requirement for a bypass lane at a new Four Seasons Car Wash in the works garenered plenty of discussions, and little agreement, among the city's five council members.

Four Seasons Car Wash sign on the intersection of Universal Road and Dellwood Drive Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The Baxter City Council found itself in a divide after a split vote over whether to grant a bypass lane variance to Four Seasons Car Wash for a new car wash.

Council members engaged in a long discussion and couldn’t come to unanimous agreement regarding the project to build a new Four Seasons Car Wash at 7361 Glory Road, or the southeastern corner of Glory Road and Highway 371. Critics of the request expressed concerns regarding a city ordinance that requires the construction of a bypass lane for car wash customers — an ordinance Four Seasons requested to be waived — especially in light of the fact the property had enough room for a bypass lane, or an escape road for drivers who need to leave the line, to be added.

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Described by Mayor Darrel Olson as “overwhelming,” the initial plan for the new Four Seasons car wash included requests for eight variances to city ordinances, which were enough to make him wonder if the Glory Road site would actually work for the proposed project. Through talks with the city and revisions to the plan, these variances were trimmed down to two.

As noted by Community Development Director Josh Doty and project manager Mike Angland, the site is “unique,” with some limitations in terms of space, the proximity to a walking trail, and its location in a line-of-sight easement that restricts the construction of buildings or amenity that may obstruct the line of sight from Highway 371 to Walmart. It was later noted this easement would not have an effect on the construction of a flat asphalt lane.


Planned future site of a new Four Seasons Car Wash at 7361 Glory Road Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

First, the council approved an initial and final plat — which effectively portioned the site into two sections in which the north portion will be developed into the car wash and the south section will be reserved for future developments — as well as associated plans, development agreements and commission-recommended provisions.

The first variance request was to amend a 35-foot setback requirement and, instead, allow a 21-foot setback for the facility’s vacuum cleaner units to be situated that far from the property line. This passed with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

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The second variance request was to nix a requirement that stipulates a car wash must have a bypass lane. While there was no escape lane in the design, Doty and Angland said a northward exit ramp had been incorporated into the building plans and would be located inside the facility, after the ordering station, just before the wash itself, that would enable drivers to leave if need be. This setup, project representatives said, worked well in other modern car wash facilities.

“You have to look at what the spirit and intent of the ordinance is,” Doty said. “I think it serves some of the ordinance's intents, but not the others.”

Four Seasons Car Wash on the intersection of Universal Road and Dellwood Drive Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

However, Olson and council member Mark Cross expressed skepticism in the validity of the variance request. They expressed concerns that not having a bypass lane could mean drivers would be trapped in line in the event of an emergency. On the other hand, Cross said, this request effectively waives the requirement for a bypass lane the developer and property is capable of incorporating into the design.


“It would be nice if this could get done without any variances,” Cross said. “If they have the room to build an escape road, they should do it.”

“It would be hypocritical of me to go against my own conscience,” Olson said. “I think the escape thing is necessary.”

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In response to arguments by Angland and the development team that current plans provide adequate escape routes for customers of the car wash, Cross said he did not find the rationale compelling enough to bend city statutes in favor of this particular project.

Four Seasons Car Wash.PNG
A design plan for the proposed Four Seasons Car Wash to be located at 7361 Glory Road. Image courtesy the city of Baxter

“I know variances don’t set precedents, but it always seems once we do something for one project, it always comes back to bite us later,” Cross said. “They have the property to do it, and it can be done within, within the confines of a lot without a variance. ... I have a hard time passing a variance when there’s no hardship, in my mind.”

Council member Connie Lyscio asked if denying the second variance would, in effect, nix the entire project. Doty responded it wouldn’t, but any decision of that nature would be left to the developer.

Ultimately, Olson and Cross were unable to convince their colleagues on that count. In a resolution to deny the second variance, the council voted 2-3, with council members John Ward, Zach Tabatt and Lyscio in opposition. Subsequently, the two sides flipped when the council voted 3-2 in favor of approving the second variance.


In other business, the council:

Approved appointments to seasonal positions of park attendant for Ben Krall, Taylor Shelito, Trenton Jackovich, Malia Hermerding, Jackson Dwyer, Noah Rushmeyer, Casey Dockter and Mariko Hermerding at $13 or $14 per hour.

Approved the appointment of Michael Karas at $15.25 per hour to the seasonal position of roadside mower.

Approve an extension of a joint powers agreement between the state of Minnesota and the city of Baxter and their prosecuting city attorney. This agreement enables the Baxter Police Department to utilize statewide crime data, resources and law enforcement communication networks for a yearly fee of $1,080 over the course of five years.

Approved a permit for retail sales of fireworks for Cub Foods, Target and Walmart for the period of May 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022.

Approved a professional services agreement, not to exceed $30,000, with HR Green for upgrades to a municipal separate storm sewer system, commonly identified as an MS4. An MS4 is a system of conveyances including roads, streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches and other infrastructure that transports stormwater and then discharges it into local bodies of water. The MS4 permit with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is designed to reduce the amount of pollutants and sediment entering state waters from stormwater systems.

Approved the 2021 pavement marking cost share agreement with the Crow Wing County Highway Department. City documents note $48,000 was allocated for striping in the 2021 streets budget. Per the agreement, the county will administer the contract for 3% of the estimated construction cost of $41,757.63 with an administrative cost of $1,252.73 for a total amount of $43,010.36.

Approved a professional engineering services contract with Widseth for a water supply system risk and resilience assessment, not to exceed $12,000.


Approved an amendment for cost estimates associated with the improvements for the water interconnect building, increasing estimates by $24,600 for a new total of $76,000.

Approved an emergency bypass of water treatment plant standard operating procedures.

Approved a delay of KLM warranty repairs to the city’s north water tower and east water tower until 2022. In a similar resolution, the council also approved delaying engineering and construction services with KLM until 2022. The project is expected to cost $55,542. The council also approved a KLM proposal for cleanout and disinfection of the south water tower in the amount of $3,800. The city opted not to undertake the warranty repairs as scheduled this year, as the city needs the water towers while Baxter water treatment facilities are temporarily shut down for repairs.

Approved a change order with Anderson Brothers Construction Co. in the amount of $1,485 for the 2020 Fairview Road, Golf Course Drive, Excelsior Road and trail connection and 2020 Oakwood Drive trail connection improvements project. According to city documents, a light pole near the Fleet Farm Auto Center was damaged by a vehicle during this winter. City staff has requested that Anderson Brothers repair the light pole and install two bollards that will protect the pole in the future.

Approved a special event application for the 2021 Kiwanis Kids Triathlon on Aug. 28 at Whipple Beach.

Approved a conditional use permit to allow use of a garden center for farmers market produce sales at the Westport Shopping Center, 14091 Baxter Drive.

Approved a lawful gambling permit for the Baxter Lions Club to conduct gambling at El Tequila Mexican Restaurant.

Approved a resolution for determining costs and having an assessment prepared for the 2021 mill and overlay and full depth reclamation project. The council also approved a public hearing on the matter to be convened 6 p.m. May 13.


GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at or 218-855-5859. Follow at .

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