New owner plans to keep old eatery next to new carwash

VALATIE–The village Zoning Board of Appeals met last week to review preliminary plans submitted by Benjamin “BJ” Cantele for a carwash he hopes to build behind the former Val Kin restaurant on Route 9. Mr. Cantele will need a special use permit from the ZBA to build the new carwash structure and approval for a subdivision from the village Planning Board so he can have the two businesses on the site.

Mr. Cantele bought the Val Kin building and property, which were in foreclosure, last year. He had planned at that time was take down the vacant restaurant building and put up a self-serve carwash on the site. Mr. Cantele also owns a carwash in Greenport.

He told the ZBA that after he bought the property he heard from several people who opposed his plan and who wanted to save the Val Kin. He said there was even one group online that wanted to “string me up by my toes on Main Street” if he took the building down.

He decided that there was enough land behind the building to build the carwash and keep the Val Kin building. He said he now has a tenant who wants to make the structure into a restaurant again. The Val Kin was a restaurant on and off for several decades and was the meeting place of the local Santa Claus Club, according the board member Keith Lynch.

“We worked hard to try to save the Val Kin,” Mr. Cantele told the board. “We’re trying to get the best of both worlds,” he said of the plan.

At the beginning of the meeting, ZBA Chair Marty McDermott said that the board would not be voting on the plan. Mr. Cantele’s engineer from Crawford and Associates was not at the meeting and the board said the plans were very preliminary.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near a full application,” said board member Tom Puchner.

Village Engineer George Schmitt, who at the meeting to advise the board, pointed out that Mr. Cantele will have to make an application for a special use permit. He said that several state agencies would have to be contacted about the plan, including the Department of Environmental Conservation, which has authority over wetlands near the property and the Department of Transportation.

Mr. Lynch said that the area had been site of some historic findings, including Native American objects. “No doubt about it, this is a sensitive area,” he said.

He also said that there is already a carwash across the street. He and Mr. Puchner brought up the carwash on Route 9H, which is closed. Mr. Cantele said he could not buy the carwash on 9H because now carwashes have to be on municipal water and sewer, and the Val Kin site does use the village municipal utilities.

Valatie Mayor Diane Argyle, who also attended the meeting, said that Mr. Cantele would have to contact the county Health Department about hooking up to the village water system if his plans are approved, since the village is under a moratorium on new hook-ups due to water capacity.

Mr. Cantele said that the village had a list of chemicals he uses in the carwash process but he still has to provide village officials with estimates of how much water the carwash would use.

He also said that the carwash would be 24/7 and there would be a dog washing area as well. The new plan calls for another entrance from the street for the carwash, separate from the Val Kin’s entrance.

Mr. Cantele will need to come before the board again with a more complete application before moving forward with any approvals. The board will have to have a public hearing on granting a special use permit.

Mr. Cantele and his engineer met with the village Planning Board at their regular meeting at the beginning of the both. The ZBA and Planning Board will hold a joint meeting on Mr. Cantele’s application on Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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