Monroe zoning board approves Self storage facility on Spring Hill Road

Hickory Lane residents oppose a proposal for self storage facility during a Planning and Zoning Commission hearing at Monroe Town Hall Thursday night.

MONROE, CT — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special exception permit allowing the construction of a 31,200-square-foot self storage facility with two loading docks and three roll up doors for up to three commercial tenants at 205 Spring Hill Road Thursday.

The approval includes conditions, most to reduce its impact upon residents living on Hickory Lane, who live behind the 7.1 acre site, which is split between the towns of Monroe and Trumbull, with 3.3 of the acres in Monroe.

One of the conditions limits truck deliveries to be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., though passenger vehicles could come outside that time period.

Dominic Smeraglino, a commission alternate, expressed concern over the use of forklifts, which have backup alarms.

Domenic Paniccia, who is also a commission alternate, said he wanted to limit refuse pickup to be after 6 a.m. because it is noisy. Luke Mauro, senior project manager of Solli Engineering, who presented the plan at the hearing for the applicant, GP 205 Spring Hill LLC, said the landlord and tenant would not be able to control when a third party does the pickups.

The commission required a gate, which could be locked if police and firefighters agree, to prevent vagrants from coming onto the property after hours.

Mauro did not want the approval to include the hours of operation, because his client does not have tenants yet.

“You need some kind of plan for hours of operation,” Commissioner Leon Ambrosey said. “You’re in a residential neighborhood, so you can’t have a 24 hour operation.”

Ambrosey said he was “leery of keeping it wide open.”

If he had to provide hours of operation, Mauro said he would request 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. That’s what the commission ended up including in its approval.

A wooded area is behind the Spring Hill Road property, but neighbors on Hickory Lane showed the commission photos of the view from their windows and street, in which the property can be seen through the leafless trees.

Matthew and Colby Lemieux, a married couple who live on Hickory Lane, spoke against the application.

“Will there be video surveillance on this building?” Colby asked during the hearing. “Will we be under surveillance? Will I have to worry about my kid being recorded? This is impeding on our sense of freedom.”

Mauro said cameras could be mounted lower to block the view beyond the fence line.

Colby and her husband also expressed concerns over windows in back of the warehouse looking out toward the windows of their house.

“We kindly ask that this application be declined,” Colby said.

Nikita Borisov, another Hickory Lane resident, complained that he would see everything going on at the self storage facility from his windows.

“I don’t understand why you need the windows,” Nicole Lupo, a commission alternate, said of the windows that would face the neighborhood. “It doesn’t have to look pretty to store stuff. It’s going to be intrusive lighting.”

Mauro said the windows were meant to bring in natural light and enhance the appearance of the building’s facade. But if the commission wants them to remove it, they will.

A condition of the approval is to remove all of the windows on the north side of the building facing Hickory Lane and half of the windows on the east side.

Lights will work on motion sensors and, though the light poles in the back will shine downward, the developer agreed to shield those lights.

A gray vinyl fence along the north property line would obscure headlights of cars in the parking lot, according to Mauro. A row of evergreens will be planted to provide a natural buffer.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathleen Gallagher included a requirement for a plan to protect the existing vegetation while site work is done.

The commission also required the applicant to remove one or two parking spaces from the north, north east corner of the 40 space parking lot. Commissioner Ryan Condon said he would like a tree or two to be planted there, because that is a direct sightline to the neighborhood.

The application was approved by Smeraglino and Paniccia, who were seated for the vote, Condon, Robert Westlund and Chairman Michael O’Reilly.

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