After more than 20 years Jackson will soon welcome a new car wash.
The Town Council recently approved one at the corner of Karns Meadow Drive and Broadway, the first since the nearby Shell car wash in 1998. Elected officials had some concerns about the environmental effect of the facility, especially considering its proximity to Karns Meadow. But ultimately they were satisfied with the project.
“They are making some efforts and strides to be environmentally friendly to the degree possible,” Senior Planner Tyler Valentine said.
Robert Infanger of Y2 Consultants, the agent for the property owners, said each car would require about 100 gallons of water. But the site’s water recovery system will allow reclamation and reuse of about 83 percent, so just 17 gallons from each wash will enter the town’s sewer system.
The recovery system consists of a series of underground tanks designed to filter sediment and oils as the water passes through. The water would be prevented from escaping into the surrounding area, which falls within the town’s “natural resource overlay,” a zone created to protect natural habitat.
“The technology in [car washes] these days is so advanced,” said John Huffman, co-owner of the property. “It’s so efficient from an environmental standpoint. … You could drink the water that gets reclaimed through there.”
Another system would deal with water in another form — the owners propose to heat the site’s pavement, avoiding the “ice skating rink scenarios that we get with many of our parking lots” in the winter.
Councilor Arne Jorgensen noted that although such heating would be useful in many ways, it also comes with a “significant energy cost.”
“It’s a good idea, and this last year it sounds really good,” he said. “But it does have an impact.”
The car wash will also fall smack in the middle of a heavily trafficked wildlife crossing corridor, particularly for mule deer making their way toward the meadow. The owners have agreed to work with wildlife authorities to design fences that will allow deer and other animals to pass through the property easily.
A buffer of 20 feet will separate the car wash from Broadway, and in that space the owners will plant trees and shrubs. All will be selected to be unpalatable to deer, discouraging them from grazing and lingering too close to the town’s busiest thoroughfare.
The lots are vacant, and serve as storage and parking space for Jackson Hole Whitewater, which is located across Karns Meadow Drive.
Cars will enter the car wash via a road just south of Broadway on Karns Meadow Drive. The owners estimate it will serve 10 to 15 cars an hour, with each wash lasting about four minutes.