Old Lyme Planning Commission Rejects Storage Unit Moratorium

Credit: Robin Breeding


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OLD LYME — The Planning Commission voted against a moratorium on storage units proposed by the Zoning Commission, citing conflicts with the recommendations for economic development in the town’s long-term planning document. 

The negative referral means that the Zoning Commission will need a supermajority — at least four out of five votes — to pass the moratorium at its March 11 meeting. 

The Planning Commission’s role was to determine whether the proposed amendment for a six-month moratorium on storage units was consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, known as the POCD, according to town counsel attorney Ed Cassella.

Planning Chair Harold Thompson concluded that the moratorium conflicts with the POCD’s economic development recommendations. 

“The town encourages additional development that is consistent with the historical and cultural character of the community and provides goods and services or employment to residents. Growth of light industry, as well as distribution and office facilities, are permitted in the vicinity of Exit 71 off I-95. There is room for additional commercial growth along Halls Road and in specific locations along Route 1 in Laysville and Route 156 in the shore area,” Thompson quoted from POCD

During the meeting, commissioners discussed the latest application for three 28-foot-tall storage buildings at 250 Shore Road, which zoning rejected in March after the applicant withdrew its first proposal in 2021 and had its second application denied in May. The applicants, Kid’s Realty, LLC and Pond Road, LLC are challenging both denials in state Superior Court. 

Eric Knapp, the town’s land use coordinator, said any current applications for self-storage units would not be affected by the moratorium, adding that self-storage units had been on the zoning agenda for the last year and that the moratorium would create a deadline for the Zoning Commission to take action. 

During the discussion, Planning Commissioner Todd Machnik said it was “a burden on property owners if they purchased a property with the intent of developing it with an approved use” that is later taken away by amendments to the regulations.  

Commissioner Robert McCarthy said if storage units were a permitted use, then zoning should not be focusing on a particular site. 

Commissioner Michael Aurelia said a moratorium would allow the Zoning Commission to amend the self-storage facilities zoning regulations and that adjacent properties could be affected by storage facilities. He also said other areas of the POCD supported protecting critical resources that could be adjacent to the site. 

Ultimately, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to reject zoning’s proposed moratorium on self-storage applications, with Thompson, McCarthy, Todd Machnik and Don Willis in favor, and Aurelia against.