Preliminary approval OK’d for auto detailer next to Fur Baby in Milford

MILFORD — The city’s Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to a new car-detailing shop for 301 N.E. Front St. on Tuesday.

Grant Shane already owns Clear Definition Auto Body on Rehoboth Boulevard, and now, he wants to open a Clear Definition brand detailing shop, as well.

“We’re doing high-end cars, high-end detailing,” Mr. Shane said. “Not just car washes.”

He expects the business to “bring in a lot of different people from all over the state. I’ve got a lot of clientele from all over, not just Milford.”

Mr. Shane said his business will not look scruffy or detract from the neighborhood visually.

“We’re really particular with how people view our business,” he said.

“Being that we do work on a lot of high-end cars, we’re not going to have cars just kind of sitting all over the place,” Mr. Shane said. “The vehicles are going to be pretty much just sitting inside.”

He added that because the business will service most of its clients within the span of a single day, there shouldn’t be very many vehicles on the lot at any one time in the first place.

Mr. Shane would be renting 3,000 square feet on the southwest end of the nearly 15,000-square-foot former GROWMARK warehouse.

State Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, a former mayor of the city, said he purchased the warehouse with his wife, Sherry, and his business partner, Jeff Bowers, in 2019 through a limited liability company called Mispillion Gateway.

Pending final inspection from the city, he will be moving his wife’s pet store and kennel, Fur Baby, into the building, as well. Currently, the business is located down the street, next to Arena’s restaurant.

“Fur Baby will take up just under 10,000 square feet,” Rep. Shupe said. “The (pet) day care itself is moving from a space that’s under 3,000 square feet to a space that is over 9,000 square feet. We will also be adding on about half an acre of outdoor space, as well.”

He and his wife hope “to get all our final approvals from the city of Milford by the end of the year and want to open the new location of Fur Baby in January.”

Mr. Shupe said he and his wife have been wanting to expand the business’s footprint for a while.

“We’ve fortunately been supported over the years by the community and have seen a lot of growth and calls for more need of our services, so we actually will be growing our day care and overnight services by quite a bit,” he said.

Potential conflicts of interest came up several times at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Mark Redden, the planning commissioner representing the 2nd Ward, recused himself from both the discussion and the vote on this project.

Archology, Mr. Redden’s architectural design company, has been hired by Mispillion Gateway LLC to design the building plan for the former Front Street warehouse, according to Rep. Shupe.

“I’m assuming he wasn’t allowed to be on tonight because we paid his company,” Mr. Shupe said. “You don’t want him to have a conflict of interest but then go on the record as a government official” in support of the project.

Mr. Redden could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shelby Nash DiCostanzo, who represents the 1st Ward, also had a connection to the design element of the project.

“I’ve just noticed something,” she said as the meeting got underway. “My father did the site plan. … I just saw his initials.”

In 2017, her father drew up the site plan for Merestone Consultants — an engineering, planning and surveying firm based in Lewes and Wilmington, she said.

Ultimately, City Solicitor David Rutt decided that this did not amount to a conflict of interest.

“I think Mark does have a conflict, since he did it directly, but Shelby, I think you would be OK,” Mr. Rutt said. Her father “just measured and staked it out. He did not do anything in terms of what the use would be or anything other than just making the drawing.”

City Council will vote on the detailing shop following a public hearing at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 11.