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Tony V. Martin, The Times

MERRILLVILLE — The site of a former self-serve car wash could become a used car dealership if the Town Council is supportive of the business.

Sam and Tony Haddad are pursuing a special exception that would allow the operation on the commercially zoned property at 7809 Taft St.

The Haddad family has operated a used car dealership in Hammond for decades and wants to invest in Merrillville, said William Emerson Jr., an attorney representing the Haddads.

He said the Taft Street site has been vacant for about two years, and it can be a difficult property to redevelop.

The Board of Zoning Appeals sent the special exception request to the Town Council with a favorable recommendation. The council could take final action on it this month.

Board member Ric Holtz said he understands the difficulty of redeveloping that site, but he is uncertain if a car dealership would be the best use for that area. Although torn about the matter, he voted in favor of the request.

The Haddads asked to have a maximum of 40 vehicles for sale on the property in its current configuration. They indicated they could go up to 70 vehicles if the parking lot there is expanded.

Town Engineer Sedrick Green said the number of vehicles that could safely fit there hasn't been determined. The site will be reviewed to set the maximum that would be permitted there.

If the parking lot is expanded, the town would want those plans to be reviewed by Merrillville's Stormwater Utility to ensure proper drainage is in place.

The Haddads plan to seal the existing parking area and complete landscaping around the property. A building at the site could be used for now, but it's possible it may be demolished in the future.

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