CORAL SPRINGS, FL- A nationally recognized car wash known for hiring people with autism got approved Wednesday to move ahead with plans to open in Coral Springs on a vacant property on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, despite concerns from nearby residents about increased traffic and noise.
A plan permitted by zoning, city commissioners unanimously supported the Rising Tide Car Wash’s plan to construct a nearly 3,000-square-foot automated car wash with 19 self-help vacuum stations on a one-acre property just east of Coral Springs Drive.
The company has similar car washes in Parkland and Margate, which employs 80 people with autism, said Dennis Mele, an attorney representing Rising Tide Car Wash.
Since opening as a family-owned, for-profit business in 2012, more than 170 people with autism have worked there and 75 percent of them have gone off to better-paying jobs or to attend schools, according to Mele and the company’s website.
“We are trying to put people on a career path,” Mele said.
Rising Tide Car Wash’s hiring philosophy has generated national news coverage and support from elected officials and education programs.
The company was founded by CEO John D'Eri whose son Andrew has autism and wanted to give him an opportunity “to find his place in the world,” according to the company’s website.
Still, some residents of nearby neighborhoods told city commissioners that they are worried that noise from the car wash would keep them up at night and increased car traffic from the business would create other problems.
Others were also upset the car wash would scare off birds and other animals living on the site now.
Residents pushed commissioners to demand the car wash add more walls around the property to buffer the noise or have the company consider another site further away from residential neighborhoods.
Mele added Rising Tide Car Wash has done traffic and sound studies which he said found no major impacts on nearby communities.
Commissioners said the city’s zoning permits the car wash there, and they support the company’s mission.
“I understand the concern of the residents there, but that property has been zoned that way for a long time,” Commissioner Larry Vignola said. “This fits the needs and people have the right to develop and sell this property.”
Vignola added Rising Tide Car Wash runs “nice clean places. They take care of their property. l love what they do for people on the spectrum and this is a good business.”
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