Plans to construct two new buildings on an undeveloped gravel lot on River Street just cleared a key hurdle and 42 new units will be coming soon to the Capital City.
The project unanimously was approved by the Development Review Board following a Tuesday night hearing, and will expand Barrett Enterprise’s growing collection of self-storage units, including some located on the same River Street parcel that is bisected by the Washington County Railroad.
Most of the nearly 6-acre lot — just more than four acres — is north of the railroad tracks and the Barrett Enterprise-owned buildings including several riverside self-storage units have access from the River Street curb cut that serves the entire property, as well as off Pioneer Street.
The just-approved project is proposed just south of the railroad tracks on a 1.75-acre portion of the larger parcel that is home to the Trading Post. No changes to that 12,000-square-foot building are proposed, but two new structures, and a stormwater retention pond are proposed on the gravel lot that sits between the Trading Post and Vermont Lazerwash.
Either one of the proposed buildings is large enough to trigger a major site-plan review in Montpelier because both exceed the 2,000-square-foot limit, and while no waiver from the rear setback requirement was needed as initially believed, conditional use approval was required.
Those factors prevented administrative approval of a project that required the review board to weigh in.
The board did so, following a routine hearing during which they learned the setback waiver was no longer needed due to a recent change in the city’s zoning regulations.
The waiver wouldn’t necessarily have been a show-stopper, but it would have required the board to conclude that easing the regulations was “beneficial or necessary for the continued reasonable use of the property.”
Zoning Administrator Meredith Crandall took the waiver off the table at the start of the hearing, telling board members its inclusion was an oversight.
“That (rear setback waiver) doesn’t have to be dealt with,” she said, explaining the last round of zoning regulations created a five-foot railroad setback in the Eastern Gateway District where the parcel in question is. The proposed setback — 20 feet — comfortably meets that requirement, though it is less than the 30-foot setback required under the old regulations.
With that issue out of the way, the board breezed through its hearing on an application that calls for construction of two single-story buildings with a combined 42 self-storage units.
The bigger of the two buildings — 3,400 square feet — will be built closest to River Street and include fewer, but larger storage units, all with doors facing away from the street and toward the railroad tracks. The second building — like the first — will be built parallel to the street and the railroad tracks. The 2,600-square-foot structure would have smaller units — some with access on the front and others on the rear.
Based on Barrett Enterprises’ experience with similar facilities in Montpelier, Berlin, Waterbury and Middlesex, board members were told the project will generate minimal traffic and require no permanent parking. There is adequate room for snow storage on the site and plans for a stormwater retention pond that will reduce the total impervious surface on the site by roughly 1,500 square feet.
Board members were satisfied with a landscaping plan that includes a mix of shrubs and street trees and comfortable with proposed lighting with the understanding that a pole-mounted security light will be removed once the buildings are constructed and downcast LED lights are installed under the eaves.
That was the lone condition placed on a permit that was approved by the board and will be drafted along with a decision green-lighting construction.