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Commission sends CUP to Supervisors with favorable recommendation, despite site plan concerns

By Amy Jo Martin, amartin@tidewaterreview.com

6:00 PM EDT, October 23, 2013

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NEW KENT – A mini-storage unit might be coming to Lanexa.

Despite concerns about future site plans and property cleanup, the New Kent County Planning Commission voted 9-0 Monday night, Oct. 21, to forward a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application for a mini-storage facility to the Board of Supervisors with a favorable recommendation.

Following the vote, District 4 Commissioner and Chairman, Jack Chalmers told the applicant, Monte Brown, that at the start of the meeting, he had not planned on voting for the CUP application.

"Make this thing beautiful and make it happen quickly, okay?" he added.

Brown (JackAss Flats) has applied for a CUP to build 40 self-storage units, as well as dry storage for boats and RVs, at the intersection of Route 60 and Rockahock Road (3201 and 13208 Rockahock Road).

Brown said he intends to build on a four-acre parcel zoned commercial, which has two existing buildings, once used for short-term residential rental and store frontage. He also intends on clearing an undeveloped 2.75-acre parcel.

Chalmers, along with several other Commissioners, voiced concerns about the buildings' current appearance, as well as a desire to see detailed drawings on the proposed project.

"During the presentation that you made last month, there was a request to have engineered drawings and that also that you would be cleaning up the property prior to this meeting," said District 4 Commissioner Richard Kontny, Jr. "So, I have concerns as to whether or not you're going to be able to fulfill the obligations and maintain this property."

According to Brown, after speaking with the planning department, he decided to wait on the engineered drawings for the planning and site development stage. In regards to the site cleanup, Brown apologized for the delay.

"I do apologize. There was a sequester going on and I was involved in trying to get my office accommodated with a lack of a staff," Brown explained. "There is a car on the side of the building, and twice we have sent people up there to start gathering and picking up debris, but as far as the larger items, they haven't been picked up, but they will be."

According to Brown, the Lanexa mini-storage project - for which a site plan is not yet necessary - would be done in three phases, including site cleanup.

Phase 1: The first stage would include cleanup and modifying the existing buildings. The main building (also referred to as building one) is a two-story building constructed of cinderblocks on a slab foundation, and would have its interior gutted.

Forty self-storage units would be built on the western side of building one, and management offices on the east side.

The second building, a single story, would also be gutted and modified to individual sub-storage units.

Phase 2: The undeveloped acres of cutover land would be developed for any additional storage units, including trailers, campers, boats, etc. Although a total of 300 units could be located on the 2.75-acre parcel, Brown told the Commission that he has no intention of building that many units on that property.

Phase 3: The project's final stage would be to construct additional storage units as demanded.

Despite Brown's insistence, Commissioners remained unsure about the project.

"I think our biggest concern is the eyesore you have and nothing's been done to it," said District 2 Commissioner Michael B. Lane, Sr. "I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling that this is really going to turn into a nice facility, and it sits right there on Route 60, and it has a great display of New Kent County."

County Attorney Michele Gowdy weighed in by reminding Commissioners of their role in the approval process, and that a site plan will be submitted during the upcoming planning phase.

"The goal of the Conditional Use Permit is the use. So, really what he's asking for is to allow mini-storage. It doesn't really have anything to do with the development of the building," Gowdy said.

"You can't really condition steps of approval."

The Board of Supervisors may review the CUP application at its next meeting, to be held on Wednesday, November 13, at 6 p.m. in the County Administration boardroom.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.