Why a gas station owner is willing to pay higher taxes to join Gardens

11:15 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 Local
Kevin Dalton has asked Palm Beach Gardens to annex this gas station and former dry cleaner he owns on Alternate A1A, just south of Hood Road. Ultimately, he wants to convert the former dry cleaning drop-off into a hand car wash. The new location will draw about 50 customers a month away from his busy Unlimited Auto Wash Club on Northlake Boulevard and be closer to his customers in Frenchman’s Reserve. The move means he will pay more in taxes, but he says it’s worth it for quicker police service from the city. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

The owner of a popular car wash club wants to open a new location on Alternate A1A and subsequently get quicker police service to his gas station next door.

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Kevin Dalton owns five Unlimited Auto Wash clubs throughout Palm Beach County and four gas stations, all but one in Palm Beach Gardens. The lone exception is a former Texaco now operating as a Chevron just south of Frenchman’s Reserve, Dalton said.

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The gas station has an old dry-cleaning drop-off site next door that Dalton plans to convert into another hand car wash. Dalton said he hopes to have the new car wash open by January.

First, he wants to annex the property into Palm Beach Gardens from unincorporated Palm Beach County.

The move will cost him about $1,500 a year in extra taxes. He said it’s worth it for the quick response times he sees from city police at his other gas stations, even for non-emergency calls to address an occasional vagrant, panhandler or drunk person on the property.

“Typically they’re here in four to six minutes, and that’s with no lights on,” Dalton said. “The police services alone are invaluable.”

He said he’s had a good experience with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols unincorporated pockets, but with Palm Beach Gardens, “it’s a whole different ball game.”

Palm Beach County officials had already approved a mechanical car wash and a convenience store on the 0.85-acre property.

All of Dalton’s other car washes are hand washes, and he plans to follow suit on Alternate A1A.

The new location will be more convenient than the Northlake Boulevard location for customers in Frenchman’s Reserve, many of whom pay by the month. It will draw about 50 washes a month away from Northlake, Dalton said.

That car wash is next to a Sunoco. None of his other car washes are in the city, but Dalton also owns the Shell station at Northlake and I-95 and a Chevron at Northlake and Military Trail.

Palm Beach Gardens officials seemed agreeable to his plans, which have not yet received final approval, at a City Council meeting last week.

“Every property you’ve maintained very well, and it’s been an asset to the city,” Vice Mayor Mark Marciano said. “It seemed a natural fit.”