PEABODY — There won’t be a car wash at the mall after all.
The car wash entrepreneur who hoped to open at the Northshore Mall asked the City Council for forgiveness Thursday night after failing to get approval to start construction.
“I apologize to everyone, I am really, really sorry for the situation I created,” said Dorjan Tozaj. “My misunderstanding and inexperience put my family in financial jeopardy.”
Despite his confession, Ward 4 City Councilor Edward R. Charest, whose district includes the car wash, made a motion to reject the proposal, which prevailed by a unanimous vote. Under the city’s rules, the proposal for the business cannot be reconsidered for two years.
At issue was a proposal for NE Hand Car Wash, a 19,000-square-foot hand car washing facility on a portion of the mall parking lot bounded by Prospect Street, Essex Lane, and Essex Center Drive.
Under the proposal, a 1,700-square-foot steel-framed carport with a metal roof that measures 70 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 13 feet high would offer car washes for mall customers, including valet service. Tozaj built the carport and installed a trailer without a special permit.
Athan Vontzalides, Tozaj’s attorney, acknowledged there were errors made in the permitting process.
“It was an unintentional and innocent mistake, but it was a mistake nonetheless,” he said. “Hopefully, we can correct that mistake this evening … Mr. Tozaj was well aware of the special permit and site plan review requirements, but instead of using an attorney, he commenced the permitting with his engineer.”
Vontzalides said unlike mechanical car washes, his client’s facility uses two-thirds less detergent, less electricity, and up to 10 gallons of water per vehicle compared to 40 gallons for traditional car wash operations.
“My client anticipates the majority of his customers will be people that are already coming to the mall,” he said.
Tozaj expected to hire a dozen employees, with as many as eight per shift.
At the start of the hearing, Charest said he appreciated Tozaj’s heartfelt apology.
“We all make mistakes, we are all human,” he said.
The councilor took offense, he said, from those who have suggested the city does not need any more minimum wage jobs.
“Not everyone can be a doctor, engineer, lawyer …” he said. “I know lots of people who this job would mean a lot to given their limits.”
But Albert Talarico, the city’s building commissioner, caused some confusion when he said the trailer on the lot, which acts as the car wash office, is considered temporary and will not be allowed to stay.
That appeared to take Tozaj and his lawyer by surprise and led to the vote to reject the car wash..