UPDATE: ZONING BOARD UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS KAMAL CAR-WASH PROJECT: On March 28, the ZBA squashed former longtime Methuen resident Alan Kamal’s plan for a touchless single-bay car wash on a wedge of land at 128 Pleasant Valley St. Reasons ranged from the project not matching “the characteristics of the neighborhood” and the proposed business’ proximity to a private residence, to there being a drive-thru car wash a quarter-mile down the road and City Council’s recent ordinance eyeing fewer special permits for car washes and storage facilities. ZBA Chair Matt D’Agostino said he received a half-dozen letters from abutters in opposition, while Kamal provided more recent e-mails from at least 2 (one of which was posted on the ZBA’s web page) of those who rescinded their disapproval following a Zoom meeting with Kamal where they discussed the project in detail. Last month, Kamal told MethuenLife that he had a backup plan should the car wash

Alan Kamal says all he wants is a fair shake.

The longtime car wash owner is responding to pushback from some residents opposed to his proposed one-bay touchless car wash on a narrow Pleasant Valley Street plot between Cataudella Funeral Home and the Route 213 overpass.

The MethuenLife Facebook page received dozens of comments for and against the car wash, following a Feb. 28 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals where the proposed wash was on the agenda (the presentation was ultimately postponed until March 27).

Kamal wants to explain the business proposal for those who he feels don’t know much about it.

“I just want someone to come in, wash their car and leave,” said Kamal, who previously owned car washes on Baldwin Street, Methuen and Broadway, Salem, N.H. “There will be one sign on the building and the only (exterior) light will be facing down. The last thing I want is to be a bad neighbor.”

Among complaints voiced on the MethuenLife Facebook page are additional traffic, and an unnecessary business with Haffner’s about a quarter-mile away, on the same side of the road.

Kamal said the 13,000-square-foot pizza-shaped lot is a former residence (razed about 20 years ago) that’s now zoned business/highway.

“My traffic study came back 100 percent clean. We can only process 12-13 cars an hour,” he said, noting the left- and right-turn entry and exit.

Unlike the tunnel car washes – like Haffner’s friction-style wash — that employ a conveyor to pull vehicles through, Kamal’s single-bay touchless system requires drivers to pull into the wash bay where high-pressure jets and soap blast grime off your car without pads or brushes touching your ride. Then the car pulls ahead slowly past dryers, which have been cited as a possible noise nuisance.

“I sourced dryers that cost more than $100,000. You and I can stand next to them and have a conversation. At 55 feet from the dryers, the noise is 60 decibels – the same as a normal conversation,” he said.

The 1,300-square-foot cashless car wash, if approved, would have no vacuums or Dumpsters.

Kamal lived in Methuen until 2020.

“We’re family owned, not a big conglomerate,” he said. “When you go to the car wash, you’ll get either me, my wife or my son.”

As far as his competition down the street goes, Kamal said there’s a notable difference between the two styles of car wash. Data taken from his Salem wash indicated that 51 percent of the business was from touch-free washes, 49 percent from friction washes.

“The people who go touchless won’t go to a friction wash,” explained Kamal. “Why should someone dictate where you can go?”

Kamal hinted that if the car wash does not get approved, he will go to Plan B – an Aroma Joe’s drive-thru coffee shop that he believes would pass easily. If the car wash is accepted, he expects cars to roll in by this coming fall or winter.