A Maryland-based developer is proposing to build a storage facility on a commercial lot on Route 16 near Union Street Extended in Milton.
Peak Management LLC of Nottingham, Md., unveiled plans to the Milton Planning and Zoning Commission April 19, for a facility known as YourSpace Self Storage. The property is zoned C-1 commercial, and self-storage would require a special-use permit.
David Hutt, attorney for Peak Management, said the parcel is directly across the street from the proposed Royal Farms. He said self-storage is something there is a significant demand for, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where more people were working from home. Hutt said the location works because it is out of the town center and in a more commercially oriented area.
Peak Management is a family-owned business with 11 storage facilities, primarily in Baltimore and Frederick counties in Maryland; this facility would be the company’s first in Sussex County.
While the facility will be three stories, it will meet the town’s height restrictions and have a 25-foot buffer from nearby residential homes.
A concept review allows planning and zoning to view and make comments about prospective development before the developer submits an application for formal site-plan approval. The planners had a number of concerns about the project, mainly related to parking and buffering.
Chair Richard Trask said he would like to see more trees at the site that would, in his words, “tone down the image” of the facility, which is shown on elevations to have a bright orange-and-blue color scheme. Commissioner Don Mazzeo said he would like to see additional trees around the property to serve as a buffer between the facility and the surrounding area.
One of the biggest issues for the commission was parking around the facility. While self-service storage facilities are a special use in a commercial district, Trask said, it was difficult to classify exactly what kind of structure the building is. He said the closest comparison is a warehouse, which in Milton’s code would require one off-street parking space for every 500 square feet of building. In this case, Trask said that would require Peak Management to have 250 parking spaces.
A way around that could be a variance from the board of adjustment. Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said the planners could also determine how many spaces are appropriate for the site, since a storage facility is a special use within the purview of planning and zoning. Thompson said the commission could determine parking spaces based on the number of employees working there and the size of the storage units.
Also a concern was access in and out of the property. Commissioners compared the access situation to that of the proposed Royal Farms across the street, which was limited to no left turns into the property from Route 16. Hutt said Peak Management is working with the Delaware Department of Transportation on the issue.
Either way, the planners and representatives from Peak Management agreed the approval process is going to take two steps. First is the special-use process, where the commission will determine if the use fits in with the health, safety and welfare of the community.
If the use is determined to be OK, the next step will be to go into the site-plan review process, where the commission will drill into the details of the project and how it fits in with zoning code.