A number of York County residents spoke out against a proposed mini-storage business’s expansion into a vacant lot behind their homes at a Wednesday planning commission meeting where the commissioners voted 3-1 to recommend the supervisors reject the expansion.
Many of the residents echoed one another, saying they researched the neighborhood — located just off George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17) near the intersection with Fort Eustis Boulevard — and bought there because of the peace and quiet and the thought that any development on the large vacant lot would be of a residential nature due to its zoning designation.
The proposal would shift the designation from residential to limited industrial in order to facilitate the expansion of Stor Moore Self Storage. The 8.6-acre lot would be problematic for residential developers, as it does not currently have access to public sewer. The land must also be subject to the provisions of the Watershed Management and Protection Area overlay district that exists due to an adjacent tributary, which requires a 200-foot wide undisturbed buffer be built along the edge of the stream.
The parcel is located at 131 White’s Road, which spurs off Route 17. First Street and Second Street spur off White’s Road, completing the small neighborhood.
Dale Moore spoke on behalf of Stor Moore, saying the mini-store warehouse buildings would be a good neighbor to the existing homes. He said the doors that open to the units would be facing inward and that all of the new construction would be sequestered from the homes by a 75-foot buffer of trees.
Some of the residents said the existing Stor Moore next door to the vacant lot and their neighborhood already makes a significant amount of noise. They complained of a helipad that exists at the site and of noise from construction equipment stored in a contractor’s yard at the rear of the Stor Moore.
Moore said he was careful to obey Federal Aviation Administration regulations with the helicopter, which he uses for law enforcement purposes. He also said he once used it to give a ride to a 6-year-old cancer victim who said he wanted to see the area from the sky. The helipad was permitted in limited industrial when the original Stor Moore was approved in 2004, but now one would be required to get a special-use permit to build one.
The new construction would total 81,400 square feet of warehouse space spread out across nine warehouse buildings. The planning staff in a memorandum submitted to the planning commission outlined what they believe will be a minimal traffic impact by the new buildings. They said the new warehouses would be accessible only via the existing Stor Moore facility, negating the need for an entryway on the residential streets.
Planning commissioner Glenn Brazelton was the lone commissioner to support the proposal. When they voted to not recommend passage of the proposal, the audience — many of whom were in attendance for proposed group homes in Lackey and Tabb — broke into applause.
The vote to recommend denial of the proposal comes after the York supervisors rejected a proposal in December to build a 55,000 square foot mini-storage business at a site about 1,500 feet away from the Stor Moore facility. At that meeting, York County Assistant Zoning Administrator Mark Carter said there is currently 216,000 square feet of approved mini-storage warehouse space in York County. The supervisors expressed concern at that meeting about the proliferation of mini-storage warehouses along the Route 17 corridor.