by Terry Rogers
On Monday, September 28, Milford City Council approved a new self-storage facility. The new facility will be located just south of Walgreens on Route 113 and would include storage units as well as an office and residence for the manager. Council was asked to approve a conditional use for the property as it was zoned commercial, a zoning that did not permit a residence to be added.
“The self-storage units will be a mix of exterior and interior units, with secure access for vehicles,” City Planner Rob Pierce said. “There will be a 1,200 square foot manager’s office with no more than 200 square feet of sales space. The remainder of that building will be for the manager’s residence. No other employees are anticipated.”
Pierce explained that the Planning Commission approved the request with special conditions. The conditions required that all lighting be unobtrusive to neighboring properties, there be security fencing around the entire perimeter and that the buildings be one-story. They also required that gate access be limited to the hours of 6:30 AM and 9 PM plus a 15-foot tree buffer be added along the property line adjacent to a residence.
“The entrance to this facility will be at an existing crossover in the same general configuration of a site plan that included office space,” David Hutt, an attorney for Savannah Ventures, the company that owns 1st State Self Storage, said. “We have reoriented the buildings and pushed them away from non-tidal wetland areas. There will be handicap-accessible parking at the manager’s office and the parking lot will be paved.” Bruce O’Hare, manager of the storage company, explained that only the interior storage units would be climate-controlled and that he would not store any vehicles at the location.
Nina Pletcher, a resident of Milford, expressed concerns with a storage facility located in a location that is basically the entrance to Milford.
“I was there yesterday and the traffic coming out of Ocean City was bumper-to-bumper making it difficult to turn onto King’s Highway,” Pletcher said. “This is the entrance to our town. Was there nowhere else in Milford we could put this? I don’t want the same thing to happen here as with the marina property on Route 1. Guys go down there and fish on that little service road. Will that still be permitted. We talk about how we want a walkable city, a beautiful city, and then we approve something like this right at the entrance to our town?”
Councilman Todd Culotta stated that he understood Pletcher’s concerns, but pointed out that the property was already zoned commercial and was on a busy road.
“One of the things the Planning Commission took into consideration traffic-wise was that you cannot get much less traffic than storage units,” Pierce said. “If they had come to us with an office building, the traffic would have been more of an issue.”
The conditional use request passed with a vote of 7 to 1 with Councilman Andy Fulton casting the only dissenting vote. Council also added the recommendations from the Planning Commission regarding lights, hours of operation and buffers.
“I find something like that right at the opening to our city not to be conducive to the city picture we are trying to present everywhere else,” Councilman Fulton said. “We have five other facilities in Milford off main thoroughfares for the public to use for this purpose.”
Councilman Culotta stated as he voted yes that he appreciated Councilman Fulton’s concerns.
“While I appreciate Andy’s comments, self-storage units are needed in Milford,” Councilman Culotta said. “We recently denied one out by the business park and if we don’t want one out in the business park, we should allow one here.”