STRASBURG – The Strasburg Planning Commission approved a special use permit for a self-storage facility to be built at the industrial park along Borden Mowery Drive on Tuesday night.
Commission Chairman Robert Flanagan and members Steven Nicholson, John Rhode, and Emily Reynolds, who is the Town Council’s representative on the commission, voted in favor of the project.
Member Hank Dean voted against it. Member Vince Poling abstained from the project as he is chairman of the Shenandoah County Industrial Development Authority, which owns property adjacent to the site of the project. Member Brian Otis was absent from the meeting.
The project calls for one, two-story 90- by 200-foot building to house storage units and 14 smaller buildings to be built on the 12-acre site, according to a staff report on the proposal.
The site has only about 8 to 9 acres of land that actually can be built upon it though because of gas and powerline utility easements encroaching on the property, Town Planning and Zoning Administrator Lee Pambid told the commission.
The project needs a special use permit because the property is zoned “by right” for other uses. If a project qualified under those uses and applied to use the site, it would automatically get approved.
Staff recommended a denial of the project citing architectural conflicts with the Unified Development Ordinance, and conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan, which identified the park as a location to draw business and create job growth.
Commission members contemplated the appropriateness of a self-storage building for the site while balancing the opportunity to get something on the site now or wait for something further down the road.
“I’m open to it,” Reynolds said during the discussion, citing the tax revenue that can be gained from it.
“I’m not sure that’s the best here,” Dean said, citing the one employee for 12 acres.
Jim Guisewhite, who spoke on behalf of a property owner within the park, said the park is designed more for business rather than an industry. That’s because of its limited size and ability to draw larger operations, like an over 300,000-square-foot Red Bull facility in Winchester, Guisewhite said.
The proposed site has been vacant for years, Guisewhite also said, and opportunities for a truck repair facility has been offered to go there but avoided because it would require a change to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, which prohibits that kind of business on the site.
The site could have been combined with an adjacent site to cover about 20 acres of land, but the staff did not include that as part of its recommendation to the commission since the applicant is going forward with the self-storage facility proposal for the one site, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said.
The storage unit would be run by the Whitacre family, who developed Route 37 Storage in Winchester about 20 years ago. The Strasburg location would be family-run, said a member of the Whitacre family during the meeting. There has been an increase in housing in the area and with that there is a need for storage units, the family member said.
The permit is now expected to go to the council to be discussed at a work session on May 3 and then voted on at a meeting on May 11.
In other action, the commission stated no objection to the town’s proposed $4.5 million capital improvement plan for next year, which was presented to the council earlier this month. The plan, along with the full budget proposal, will be discussed on May 3 at a public hearing.
The commission also unanimously approved estimated bond figures for the first phase of the Summit Crossing development project in the amount of $778,000 for infrastructure and landscape work, and about $226,000 for sewer work. The sewer work is contingent upon a need for it if the system for it previously installed there is not adequate, Pambid explained. The approval is required by the town’s Unified Development Ordinance.
The commission also unanimously recognized the work of Pearson, who began working for the town in 2014 as its planning director and will be leaving Monday for the planning director job in Frederick County. Flanagan stated Pearson, even as he became town manager in 2017, helped the town with the Unified Development Ordinance, the industrial park project, the Comprehensive Plan and the Summit Crossing study.
“He has made valuable contributions to us in our deliberations,” Flanagan said. The Architectural Review Board earlier this week also wished Pearson well.
Pearson thanked the commission and the review board, respectively, and spoke positively of his time with the town.