Engineer Robert L. Doane Jr. presents plans at a Monday night zoning hearing in Old Lyme (CT Examiner/Hewitt)

Shore Road Plans Raise Questions at Zoning Hearing

OLD LYME — The addition of a proposed maintenance shop raised questions from the Zoning Commission during a public hearing Monday night for a special application for the construction of four storage buildings at 224 Shore Road.

Engineer Robert L. Doane Jr., who represented the applicant, Mar Holding LLC, which is owned by Frank Maratta of Old Lyme, told the commission his client wanted a “shop/office” on the 1.7-acre site where he could keep trucks and equipment used to maintain his other properties.

“He has several properties in Old Lyme and he felt that he would like to have a spot for four employees and their prime function on this property is to maintain this property and they would use it as their office,” said Doane.

The original project drawings showed four self-storage buildings ranging in size from 1,800 square feet up to 4,200 square feet, but did not show a maintenance shop.

Doane said he had submitted new architectural drawings that modified building four, a 30-by-115-foot building located at the northernmost side of the property. The changes included converting a 60-by-115-foot section at the west end of the building to a maintenance shop and office, with a roof height of 16.5 feet. The other buildings and the remainder of building four had proposed roof heights of 8.5 feet to about 9.2 feet.

“He wanted a larger door on that shop to get taller vehicles in,” Doane said when asked about the shop’s higher roofline. “It’s my impression that they would be just work trucks that they use on the other sites.”

Commission member Jane Marsh said storing vehicles on the site had been a concern of the Connecticut Water Company during a previous special permit application on the same site for construction of a 40-by-60-foot garage with paving equipment and trucks to be parked outside. The commission voted against the application in March, 2018.

Doane said the previous application included storing paving equipment outside, but the
parking spaces in the new project were specified for passenger vehicles.

Commission chair Paul Orzel said the application specified “storage” and told Doane that needed to be changed to “self-storage.”

“For the record it’s self-storage units,” said Doane. “And a portion of that is a shop/office.”

Doane said no lighting was proposed for the site because the ambient light from two L.E.D. streetlights would be sufficient. He said lights from the adjacent driving range would also provide light in the summer.

“Is there any other lighting plan besides those two?” asked Michael Barnes, commission alternate. “It’s open 24 hours. People are just going to have to use a flashlight on the backside [of the buildings] to get into the units.”

Doane said there may be interior lighting in the units.

Orzel said he was concerned about safety. “There has to be some sort of lighting. It’s just too dark back there, the ambient light is not enough,” he said.

Doane said any lights proposed would be dark-sky friendly.

Concerning security, Doane said the complex would likely have cameras but the owner planned to forgo the type of security gate that many self-storage facilities have.

“He told me he feels comfortable with just having a lock on their unit as far as security and then he doesn’t have to worry about the gate not functioning,” Doane said.

Commission member Alan Todd said he was concerned about the lack of security gate because, for example, high school students could use the complex as a meeting spot. “It could attract problems, it’s a worry,” he said.

Barnes asked about an on-site dumpster for use by people who rent the storage units.

Doane said keeping the dumpster empty would be a problem because people unconnected with the property would use it.

“We would prefer to have a dumpster serve the inside of the shop and the office and not have an exterior dumpster because it would be abused,” he said.

Cable said the project sounded similar to warehousing, which was similar to the previously rejected application.

Attorney Michael E. Cronin Jr., who represented Mar Holding LLC, said his client would modify the plan if necessary.

The public hearing was continued to the commission’s April meeting.

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