PEABODY — Northshore Mall customers won’t be able to get their car washed while they shop quite yet.
The owner of a hand car wash and detail service under construction near Shaw’s Supermarket was ordered to stop work.
Albert Talarico, the city’s building commissioner, issued a cease-and-desist letter last week to Dorjan Tozaj for failing to get a special permit for the business.
“I think it was a big misunderstanding,” Talarico said. “Mr. Tozaj is from England and he really didn’t know what was up, despite the fact that I told him what was needed.”
Tozaj, a London native, hopes to open NE Hand Car Wash later this year. There’s a trailer on the lot and construction of a car port was underway. But first he needs City Council approval.
In an interview with The Item, Tozaj said he was set to offer the service to mall customers while they shop.
“I didn’t know until very recently from the city that I needed a special permit,” he said. “I’m new to the city and this country and the process is quite confusing. I’ve hired an attorney and hope the city is understanding. This project has cost me lots of time and expense.”
Tozaj said he has spent $150,000 so far to launch the car wash. He operated a similar service previously in London and Rushden, England, he said.
Talarico insists Tozaj has been in and out of his office many times over the last three years and had been told he needed council permission, and an occupancy permit from the building inspector.
City Councilor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin said the entrepreneur simply disregarded the law.
“His claim of ignorance is no excuse,” she said. “He was told three times by the building inspector what was needed and he didn’t do it. The whole thing is questionable.”
Manning-Martin also blamed Northshore Mall manager Mark Whiting.
“He knows better than anyone what businesses are allowed and which ones require a special permit on his property,” she said.
Whiting declined to comment and said he would speak at the special permit hearing which has not been scheduled.
Tozaj said hand-washing a vehicle is gentler on cars than machine-operated washes and uses less water. The service is widely used in Europe and has replaced traditional car washes, he added.
If he opens, the cost will range from $10 for a basic wash to up to $150 for detailing.
Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit magazine that tests products and accepts no ads, recently compared hand-washed cars to automatic washes.
“Many enthusiasts prefer to have their cars detailed and hand-washed for the ultimate in appearance and paint protection,” CR wrote. “But for the average consumer, an inexpensive automatic car wash is a good way to go.”