A third update to First State Self Storage’s project located near Walgreens on Dupont Highway, just south of the railroad tracks near Silver Lake was approved by City Council at a recent meeting. A preliminary conditional use site plan was approved in November 2022 with a 90,000 square-foot self-storage project that included one two-story building and several smaller buildings on the site.
“It was determined after meeting with DelDOT that the proposed entrance location for the project would need to be shifted to the complete opposite end of the property,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “So, it went from the southern side to the northern side which required kind of a shifting around of some of the site components significant enough that we wanted to bring it back to the Planning Commission and council, because the final site plans are reviewed administratively.”
Pierce stated that when the project was approved in November 2022, the Planning Commission and council set a handful of conditions, including unobtrusive lighting on neighboring properties, a continuous security border around the entire perimeter and a 15-foot landscape buffer between the project property and the residential parcel to the east of the planned self-storage project. Those conditions remained with the new plan with the change to the entrance.
“I would say that we’re not here of our own volition, not that we’re not happy to be here. But when the project was initially approved, back in 2022 and I say initially that’s the most recent approval, as Mr. Pierce indicated in his opening comments, there have been a number of iterations of this plan, most recently in 2020 and then in 2022,” David Hutt of Marsh and James, said. “In 2022, prior to coming to this body, there was a preliminary meeting with DelDOT, and the entrance was to be located on the south side. And that was reviewed and thought to have been approved by DelDOT. But as the plan that this body approved in November of 2022 moved forward, through further meetings with DelDOT, they changed their mind and said they wanted the entrance to be on the north side of the site. Certainly, that’s sort of a significant change with respect to an entrance although when you look at the plans, they probably look very familiar or similar to you because it is very similar to what was approved in November of 2022.”
The major difference, according to Hutt, was the new entrance on the north side of the site as opposed to the south side.
“There was going to be on the south side when you pulled in, an office for individuals who were going to lease space in there to be able to meet with somebody prior to going back into the locked portion of the site. Of course, all of those features and facilities now move to the north side of the building,” Hutt said. “Due to the topography of the property, we are able to have what amounts to a two story building that looks like a one or one-and-a-half story because it is actually sunk into the ground.”
Hutt explained that using the topographical layout of the site allowed the design to be adjusted so that instead of the eight buildings originally planned, there could now be ten. Because the property is close to the Mispillion River as well as Haven and Silver Lake, the new design also provides more distance from wetlands on the property. It also allows for the elimination of a retaining wall to keep the self-storage separate from the wetlands. Councilman Andy Fulton asked for additional information on how wetlands would be protected. He believed there had been a pump planned near the retaining wall which did not appear in the new plan.
“In the old version, I do not recall that there was any pumps in the old plan where the retaining wall is, who’s controlling the retaining wall was in the upper right hand corner. Essentially, the retaining wall went from almost the corner of the wetland and sort of wrapped around the other way towards the east,” Hutt said. “And sort of came across there to the site, and with respect that with the reconfiguration of the buildings, that was no longer necessary, and I’m not an engineer, Mr. Flathers could probably answer these questions better than I could.”
Chris Flathers of Morris Ritchie Associates explained that the buffers would remain the same and that grading would be used to protect the wetlands. Because the buildings were a little deeper than the plan presented in 2022, the engineers felt there would be less runoff. The final site plan would meet DNREC standards, Flathers stated. Councilman Dan Marabello asked if part of the units would be climate controlled and whether there would be landscaping added to beautify the project.
“The answer to the first question is that yes, the larger buildings and 90,000 square foot, two story, control storage, is going to have climate control units,” Hutt said. “The single story buildings that are that those 10 buildings will not have a climate control. And the answer to your second question is that yes, there will be landscaping to certainly make this an attractive business and have an attractive streetscape for the city.”
Council approved the request unanimously. Councilman Mike Boyle stated that the plan meets the standards set forth in city code while Councilman Marabello was happy that the plans were changed to meet the requirements. Councilman Fulton also felt the designers had met the requirements under code and had changed the project to meet the needs of DelDOT. Councilman Jason James also felt this was an added amenity for the city.
“Self-storage is always a necessity,” Councilman Todd Culotta said. “It seems to me that it is a growing industry, and the proposed drawings are what the buildings will look like which I think are pretty attractive. I’m looking forward to this and I think it is a good use of land.”
Councilwoman Nirmala Samaroo also felt it would be a great addition to the community and Councilman Brian Baer commented that citizens were in need of good storage facilities.
“This is awesome. Yes, I vote yes,” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said. “Really good to have control climate storage. People are really excited about that. And sorry that you had to go through all of changing directions of your plan. I know that caused a time delay in everything. But we are happy that you stayed true to the course and we’re going to have storage buildings.”
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