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Self-Storage Facility Proposed for Rocky Hill Node of Montgomery Township on Zoning Board Agenda for January 23

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted January 22, 2023

Applicant Renard Management plans to appear before the Montgomery Township Zoning Board on Tuesday at 7 pm to seek preliminary and final site plan approval, with multiple variances, to construct a self-storage building on a 3-acre site at 1026 County Route 518.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at in the Municipal Center chambers room located at 100 Community Drive, Skillman. This application has been postponed and rescheduled several times, so please check the Montgomery Township Planning site to ensure the applicant is still on the agenda prior to attending.

Self Storage Facility proposed for Montgomery Township

Renard Management's architect's rendering of the proposed self-storage facility for Route 518 on the Montgomery/Rocky Hill border.

The applicant Renard Management of Mahopac, NY and Yonkers 300 LLC of Red Bank, NJ owned by Dino Tomassetti, Jr. of Brooklyn, have made an application to the Montgomery Township Zoning Board for multiple variances needed in order to construct the project. It is bordered by single-family homes in Rocky Hill Borough to the east, a Wawa convenience store to the west, the ShopRite shopping center to the north, and Route 518 to the south.

Renard is seeking a use variance and preliminary and final major site plan approval to develop a self-storage facility within two separate buildings. Variances are required for building height and floor area ratio. The first building is a 123,259 sf self-storage building, three stories in height.

The second building is a “drive-up self-storage building” that is 9,907 sf and one story in height. A parking lot with 16 spaces is proposed between the buildings. Two curb cuts and one driveway is proposed. The driveway forms a “U” shape in the properties rear, a portion of which is a one-way drive that goes through the center of the three story self-storage building from north to south with access to Route 518.

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The site would also include a masonry trash enclosure, curbing, signs, utility and stormwater infrastructure, plantings, building-mounted lighting and a concrete walkway along the western, northern and southern sides of the facility.

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Location of the proposed self-storage facility.

While the building it not technically a warehouse, the design is styled after a warehouse.

"The proposed building is industrial in appearance, reading as a warehouse. It will also require several variances relating to building design. The industrial appearance of the proposed building is out of character with the neighborhood and the existing buildings within the ... district," according to a 34-page summary of the application prepared by Montgomery Township planning consultants Michael F. Sullivan and James Clavelli.

The Montgomery Township Planning office has proposed the following design change, modeled after a self-storage facility located in Somerset, NJ.

"It is recommended that the applicant use a more traditional design approach, rather than a contemporary, minimalist industrial design, for the proposed building if the application is looked upon favorably. A similar facility, CubeSmart, recently opened a location in Somerset New Jersey on Somerset Street that is designed to look like a more traditional industrial building with high-quality finishes and more robust articulation of facades. From certain perspectives, it reads as a contemporary multifamily or mixed-use commercial/residential building which is far more desirable."

In summary, can a self-storage facilty look nice?

A three-story self-storage unit in Duvall, Washington is modeled after a barn. It even has a weathervane.

Another concern: Do the six mature trees along Route 518 have to be cut down, as the applicant proposes?

Mature Trees to be cut down?

Also, the applicant has proposed a chain-link fence for the perimeter of the property.

Sgt. Sean Sullivan of the Montgomery Police Department reviewed the site plans. He commented, "I see the storage facility will be staffed during certain hours. My only suggestion, if it has not already been addressed, is for a security gate, and security camera system be in place."

Some self-storage units located in New Jersey have 24-hour live-monitored video surveillance, nightly security patrols, and individually alarmed units, as well as brightly-lit premises. Perhaps this will be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday night.

A concern expressed by Rocky Hill residents is whether the town's residents will still be able to walk to the ShopRite and other stores in the Montgomery Shopping Center, as they can now. There is a well-established pathway through the current site.


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