Bedford Town Justice Erik Jacobsen has ordered the Splash car wash to vacate its Bedford Hills site by Sept. 30, dealing a victory for the property's landlord.
In a 4-page decision issued on Aug. 3, Jacobsen rejected defenses by Splash for why it stayed beyond the April 30 expiration of its lease for the property, which is at 527 N. Bedford Road. Specifically, he disagreed with a claim that the landlord, Shullman Family Limited Partnership, engaged in a tortious interference with the lease contract, writing that no breach is alleged and that one needed to be shown. Jacobsen also rejected a defense that noted the full year's property taxes had been paid, which is for a period longer than the lease was to run for the year.
The partnership is owned by the Shullman family, whose ownership goes back to the 1960s. It was decided that the longterm lease for Splash would not be renewed. The family also plans to open its own car wash, Russell Speeder's, on the same site.
Meanwhile, Splash is planning to move to a new facility at 562-570 N. Bedford Road, a Bedford Hills site that once included a Carvel ice cream shop. It has spent three years trying to get the proposed car wash built, including applications to Bedford's zoning board of appeals (ZBA) for variances and the planning board. The proposal, which includes separate spaces for both automatic and hand wash, ran into opposition from neighbors on nearby Valerio Court, Patch reported during the ZBA's review process, who worried about traffic impact.
Splash has since secured all approvals except for a building permit, Chief Executive Officer Mark Curtis said this week.
Reached for comment, family member Bob Shullman described himself as "pleased" that the judge came out on "the side" that he thought he would. He added that Splash was told "years ago" that the lease would not be renewed.
Reached for comment, Curtis said he is "somewhat disappointed" that the judge did not allow for them to stay longer.
The local lawsuit was brought after Splash refused to leave the property, which it had leased since 1995. Splash filed its own lawsuit in state Supreme Court in White Plains seeking to enjoin eviction and demanding millions of dollars from a judgment and putative damages.
The lawsuit, which names Shullman family members, Russell Speeder's and the partnership as defendants, alleges that defendants secretly retained a land use attorney and other experts to fight the new proposal during the town review process. Splash also claims that defendants solicited neighbors secretly and that experts were told to misrepresent themselves as being hired by neighbors. As a result, Splash claims that the defendants engaged in tortious interference with business relations and that there was a breach of good faith for the lease because of the alleged actions. The defense is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit and argues that the experts who appeared during town review for the new site were doing so on behalf of neighbors and not them.
Both Curtis and Shullman expect an update from the state Supreme Court judge by next month.
If Splash has to move out by Sept. 30, Curtis told Patch that he has secured a temporary location elsewhere on North Bedford Road, although he declined to identify where the site is.