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March 3, 2022

MONTCLAIR, NJ – The Montclair Planning Board met on February 28 to complete the hearing for a CubeSmart self-storage facility to be built by Storage Deluxe, which plans to construct the facility on a triangular corner along the NJ Transit railway line at Grove Street. The application was presided over by Board Chairman John Wynn and featured lawyers for both the applicants and the owner of the adjacent property where CVS is located – Richard Schkolnick and John Delaney, respectively.  Delaney was present to express any possible concerns from his client over the self-storage facility being so close to the CVS parking lot in the rear of the property.

Schkolnick reported to the board that the applicants had made changes to the plan to accommodate concerns and issues of the property’s neighbors.  The plan was revised to reduce the square footage from 82,600 to 73,600 square feet and the number of storage units from 750 to 665.  The setback of the side of the building to face the CVS property was moved back to 20 feet, eliminating a variance for a five-foot-setback.  Also, the wall proposed on the perimeter of the property along the CVS parking lot was reduced from six feet to two feet, meeting the maximum wall height and eliminating another variance.

Andrew Ehinger of Storage Deluxe testified further on the matter, saying that his company made numerous modifications to the plan.  Trees and landscaping have been added and the rear façade facing the CVS parking lot was freshened up, with the height of the building reduced to 33 feet, 10 inches.  The site is being built up to reduce stormwater impact, with a basin to catch residual storm water that would be pumped out to Grove Street.  Ehinger also said that the wall in the rear would feature decorative masonry and a protective fence on top, with evergreen trees along the property’s perimeter to further soften the view from the CVS parking lot.

Board member Carmel Loughman asked about access to the facility, which would be open daily from 6 A.M. to 10 P.M., and about possible littering from storage-space customers.  Ehinger explained that customers would sign leases that recognize the prohibition of garage dumping on the facility and that there is to be a camera system to monitor possible violations.

Engineer J. Michael Petry testified next, explaining the stormwater system.  The landscaped areas would absorb rain water with the drainage system directing the water to the retaining basin, where it would be pumped out to Grove Street via an underground pipe.  The property grade would be raised by five feet to control water drainage and direct it away from the rear property.  Plantings would likely feature grass and ground cover, and the proposed trees would likely be either Norway spruces or Leyland cypress.  Coniferous trees are preferred to prevent falling leaves from needing to be removed in autumn.  Planning Director Janice Talley said that her department would be consulted over the plantings to be chosen.

Planner Peter Steck made the case for the self-storage facility to be constructed on the property.  He argued that it was a legitimate use for the semi-industrial area near the intersection of Grove and Walnut Streets, which also includes a setback office building owned by Robert Silver and an auto body shop.

Steck defended the numerous variances still required for the project.  He explained that the variance to allow 12 parking spaces (when there should be 74 spaces) is needed because the usage expected anticipates that a dozen parking spaces will be enough, and Ehinger added later on that, unlike other CubeSmart facilities, there will be no rental trucks available on the property and no accommodations or for customers with tractor-trailers to use the facility in Montclair.  Steck also argued for a variance for the 58 percent glass frontage – the minimum requirement is for 60 percent glass – on the merits that no one would or should want to look into a storage facility.  The fence would need a variance to be placed on top of the rear wall, rather than be set back, to allow better landscaping.  Steck also addressed the rule requiring that the mounting height of wall signs not exceed the height of the ground floor or 12 feet, whichever is greater, and the mounting height of the proposed wall sign is 29 feet, two inches.  He said that a variance was necessary to allow the proposed signage for better visibility.  There may be a sign closer to Grove Street put up later.

Robert Silver called into express his support for the project next door to his office building. Silver said that the applicants have been very accommodating and communicative with the neighbors and that they clearly want their self-storage facility to be a part of the community.  He said it was a tremendous improvement over the oil storage facility that had been on the property before, and he was grateful to Storage Deluxe for having resolved past issues concerning the project with neighboring property owners.  Chairman Wynn agreed with Silver’s assessment of the applicants, saying that they had acted “in a positive manner” and said that the self-storage facility would be a good addition to the area and that it was an appropriate use for the property.  The board approved the project unanimously when John Delaney, the lawyer for the owner for the building CVS is located in, said his client had decided not to offer testimony.

The board also approved the resolution for the apartment building at 10 Elm Street, and it did so with the condition that attorney Arthur Neiss said he could make clarifications to the resolution if needed.

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