Billy Mackendrick has washed about 16 vehicles at his home-based detailing shop since May due to COVID-19.
"Just to stay a little bit busy," he said.
The business, which is located on North Market Street and takes up about half of Mackendrick's garage, is mostly a sideline for the Summerside realtor. A number of his customers are family and friends, but when he learned he'd need a conditional-use permit to continue operating in the city he figured it was worth applying for.
The permit was ultimately denied by the city's technical services staff due to the size of his garage. He then appealed the decision. Following a Sept. 1 city council committee meeting, Summerside's planning board voted not to recommend Mackendrick's appeal. He believes his situation was misrepresented.
During the meeting, Coun. Barb Ramsay said that the shop has been a disturbance in its residential area, and she was sent loud video clips of Mackendrick's operations.
"I, as well as other councillors, have received numerous complaints from the residents," she wrote in an email to The Guardian.
Mackendrick only knows of one neighbour who took a video of him while he was pressure-washing a vehicle, and all his other neighbours told him they aren't bothered by his business. He could understand if the noise of his tools, such as his pressure washer, was a concern in his neighbourhood.
"I can respect that," he said. "But it's no louder than a lawnmower."
The concerns Ramsay listed in her email include street traffic and parking space being affected, as well as noise disturbance for many hours of the day and sometimes into the evening. During the meeting, she also stated that vehicles were being parked too close to stop signs and that police had to intervene, a claim that Mackendrick denies.
AT A GLANCE:
- Car detailing shops are eligible home-based businesses, according to section 9.4 of Summerside's zoning bylaw.
- That being said, no residential property may be used for commercial purposes that result in undue dust, noise, smell, smoke, electrical interference or traffic that may be detrimental to the neighbourhood.
- Billy Mackendrick's conditional-use permit was denied after he permitted city staff to measure his garage's floor area in late August. It made up 32 per cent of his entire home - that's above the allowable 25 per cent for a home-based business in Summerside.
Dave Poirier, Summerside's chief of police, said there was nothing on file stating police had ever visited Mackendrick's home other than to serve a letter on the city's behalf in July.
"I don't even know what was in the letter," he said.
The letter was to inform Mackendrick his business violated city bylaw and he was to stop washing cars. That being said, because his business is only part-time and it doesn't take up his whole garage, he doesn't think his application is being treated fairly.
"Reading their bylaw, I fit everything in their criteria," he said.
Because of the nature of Mackendrick's appeal, a final decision on the matter will be made by city council during its Sept. 21 meeting. The reason he decided to apply in the first place was that there was nothing in the bylaw stating he was ineligible, he said.
Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.