TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — The proposed addition of RV and other vehicle parking at an existing self-storage facility on Route 30 was approved by the town Planning Board, but not until after a lengthy discussion by the board over town regulations.
The board ultimately determined that the only action needed was an amendment the facility’s special use permit to allow for a 6-foot-tall fence.
Norm Kotoch of NAK Management and Consulting presented a site plan application for the existing Life Storage site at 4786 Route 30 to the Planning Board on Wednesday on behalf of the property owners, Merit Hill Capital.
The operational facility features self-storage units along the center of the property and parking spaces around the perimeter of the site on crushed gravel and a paved area along the front of the property on Route 30. No changes to the parking surfaces would be made when the approximately 34 parking spaces are striped.
Longer 40-foot stalls would be located on the paved area capable of accommodating large RVs and 20-foot-deep stalls would be located around the remainder of the site. Driving areas of at least 20 feet between the self-storage units and the parking spaces would be maintained.
The proposed installation of a 6-foot-tall chain link fence around the property with a lift gate operated by a keypad would improve security while ensuring site access is limited to the existing daily hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. An emergency gate would be located at the rear of the property enabling first responders to access the site if necessary.
The new parking storage service would be limited to vehicles in good working order driven onto the lot on their own power with owners required to present the title for the automobile prior to rental approval. Only boats on trailers would be permitted to be towed in.
Office staff would provide on-site monitoring to maintain compliance with facility rules. Kotoch confirmed staff would ensure RVs parked at the site are present only for storage purposes.
Reviewing the application, the Planning Board members described outdoor storage as a “gray area” that is not addressed in the town code. However, the property is already used to some degree for outdoor storage through the previously approved special use permit, which allows the site to be used for U-Haul rentals with equipment that is stored outdoors.
Since the use of the site would effectively be unchanged, the board determined the only new aspect of the project was the proposed installation of a fence around the property. This became a sticking point as the board found it would be necessary to amend the previously approved special use permit that had not allowed for the fencing.
The board members were unsure if the action would be subject to a public hearing and referral to the Montgomery County Planning Board as normally required for a special use permit.
Kotoch argued those steps should be unnecessary for the minor site alteration. He noted the striping of parking spaces on the property could be done without any approvals from the board.
“It’s a 6-foot fence, that’s it. It’s for security, it’s improving the area,” Kotoch said. “I was hoping to leave here with an approval since it is minor.”
The board continued to debate the required procedures until Chairman Brent Phetteplace called Town Attorney Charles Schwartz, who was unable to attend the meeting in-person, seeking clarification.
Addressing the board over speaker phone, Schwartz described the action as an “attendant use” associated with the previously approved special use permit and requiring only the acceptance of the proposed change to the existing document for the site.
“It would have been well within the scope,” Schwartz said of approving the fence with the original permit. “I don’t think he needs to be there to be candid.”
The Planning Board subsequently approved a change to the original special use permit to allow for the installation of a fence around the property.
Installation of the fence and striping is expected to begin within the next month with RV and vehicle storage beginning this fall, Kotoch said.