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Self-Storage Developer Withdraws Proposal Due to Opposition in Wallingford, VT

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AG Self Storage LLC has withdrawn its zoning-permit application for a proposed 18,650-square-foot facility in Wallingford, Vt., after facing heated opposition from residents. Applicant Michael Lazar submitted plans for a three-building, 125-unit facility at 30 Haven Hill Road, which would have required a conditional-use permit and multiple variances because the 3.4-acre parcel is in a district zoned for agricultural and rural-residential uses, according to the source.

Several residents calling themselves Friends of Haven Hill Road attended a site review at the property on Dec. 2 to protest the project. They contended it was a poor fit for the area and would block a scenic view of West Hill. Resident Chip Gottlieb led the opposition group, with support from 16 of the 18 homeowners on the street. The group hired two environmental attorneys to help fight the project and was prepared “for the long haul,” Gottlieb told the source.

Lazar submitted a letter to the development-review board withdrawing his application after speaking with Gottlieb on Monday. The board was scheduled to review the project on Tuesday night. “I’m glad,” Gottlieb said. “He backed out, and he was a real gentleman.”

“Please know that as a small Vermont business, AG Self Storage is committed to developing facilities that are mindful and respectful of the neighbors, the community and the town in which they are built,” Lazar wrote to the board. “My goal is to develop small self-storage facilities that provide a valuable service to communities and are more secure, attractive, user-friendly and convenient than other older self-storage facilities. My intention with this venture is to introduce a new business that will seamlessly and amicably become a member of the community. It is not to fight with or disrespect the people in that community.”

Lazar also expressed some frustration over the permitting process, particularly confusion over setback regulations and recommendation he pursue a variance, which “contributed to the recent negative response to this project. If I had known at the beginning of this process that a variance would be required or that neighbors would feel unreasonably impacted, I never would have pursued trying to permit this project,” he wrote.

Based in Charlotte, Vt., AG Self Storage is building a facility in Johnson, Vt., and has received approval for another project in St. Johnsbury, Vt., according to the source.

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