After much debate, Gas N Wash plan clears hurdle in Wheeling

A plan to build a Gas N Wash station on Wheeling’s west side got preliminary approval from a divided village board Monday.

A convenience store offering video gambling, a liquor store, a car wash and at least one fast-food restaurant also are planned for the site, which is on the northeast corner of Hintz and Old Buffalo Grove roads.

The roughly 4-acre property is mostly vacant. A shopping center there was demolished in 2022, and a shuttered service station on adjoining property would be knocked down, too.

The site is on the village’s border with Arlington Heights. It adjoins the Mallard Lake Apartments and is across Old Buffalo Grove Road from the Brook Run apartment and townhouse complex in Arlington Heights. Single-family homes are across Hintz Road to the south.

Critics have expressed fears about traffic, pollution, noise, crime and other issues, and they did so again Monday night with more than 90 minutes of occasionally emotional comments during the public comment section of the meeting.

Wheeling resident Theresa Lescher was among the 30 or so people who spoke against the proposal. Crime was one of her concerns.

“It will invite strangers to our neighborhoods,” Lescher said.

Later in the meeting, however, Police Chief Jamie Dunne said 24-hour businesses in the Northwest suburbs are not greater crime risks than ones that close and reopen daily.

Another audience member, John Gibb, called the proposal “the worst idea for Wheeling.”

“Don’t do this,” Gibb begged trustees. “Please. Don’t.”

No audience members spoke in favor of the plan.

The board voted 5-2 to approve the preliminary development plan. Trustees Jim Ruffatto and Dave Vogel voted against it.

The board also approved special use permits for the proposed car wash and liquor store and consolidation of the two parcels there into a single lot.

Trustee Joe Vito said he doesn’t expect the Gas N Wash will be a successful business but voted for it anyway.

“I don’t understand where you’re going to get enough traffic on Hintz Road to keep this viable,” Vito told Gas N Wash representatives before the vote. “But I can’t vote against you just because I think you’re going to fail when I think you meet all the zoning requirements.”

Trustee Mary Papantos tried to refute concerns some opponents raised about the proposed business being a draw for prostitutes because, under state rules, it would be considered a truck stop so it would qualify for a gambling license.

“I think you may have watched too many movies,” Papantos said.

  A gas station and other businesses are planned for the northeast corner of Hintz and Old Buffalo Grove roads, shown here looking northeast. Joe Lewnard/, May 2024

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