Update 9/14/17 – The planning board officially denied SS Glen Rock’s variance request on Sept. 7. The rejection followed five hearings between April and June to discuss the facility that would have been 137,950 square feet and included more than 1,000 units, according to the source.
The nine-page resolution stated, “The size of the building proposed with a maximum building-coverage total floor area of 170 percent where 35 percent is permitted is out of proportion for the property and the surrounding area, and the grant of the variance will significantly and adversely substantially impair the intent and the purpose of the master plan and zoning ordinance.”
During a June 29 board meeting, Mayor Bruce Packer, chairman Robert VanLangen, and board members Ken Hrasdzira, Kristine Morieko and Greg Toro voted to deny the request. Harold Knapp cast the only dissenting ballot. “The [planning] board finds that adequate proofs to satisfy the criteria described for the grant of the variance do not exist,” the official resolution stated.
The board’s criteria for a variance include property shape, exceptional topographic conditions, and extraordinary situations affecting a specific property, the source reported. It also includes projects that will have no substantial detriment to the public and that won’t “substantially impair the intent and purpose of the master plan and zoning ordinance.”
During one hearing, Mayor Packer suggested the facility’s proximity to New Jersey State Route 208 could draw those looking to store drugs. Those opposed to the storage development also stated it was “out of character” with the area, and that granting the variance would affect future planning.
5/11/17 – Real estate developer SS Glen Rock LLC has proposed to build a five-story self-storage facility on the former site of Hudson City Savings Bank in Glen Rock, N.J., but neighboring business and property owners oppose the project. The 1.97-acre parcel at 161 Harristown Road is between a Bank of America and an office building, and across the street from Dobrow Sports Complex. Opponents voiced concerns about the facility’s size as well as potential safety issues during a May 4 planning-board hearing, according to the source.
The developer has requested a building-coverage variance of 170 percent. Though maximum allowable coverage is 35 percent, the variance request includes all five stories of square footage, the source reported. The footprint of the building would be 29,734 square feet, with the roof line at 53 feet and the tallest parapet reaching 61 feet. The application also requests permission for a 6-foot fence, two feet above the maximum-allowable height.
Tamer Ali, who owns the lot leased to Bank of America, told planners the size and appearance of the storage structure could potentially deter new business tenants from coming to the area and offering services better suited for the community. “We have to fill this town with more bodies—not possessions, not things," Ali said during the hearing. "Those don’t buy lunch; they don’t go to local areas; they don’t take the train.”
Peter Steck, a professional planner representing insurance agency MSO Inc., argued the self-storage facility wouldn’t fit aesthetically with the area. “That’s the danger here," Steck told planners. "By putting something so out of character with it, you’re going to injure the value of surrounding properties.”
Project manager Kevin Bulger indicated the developer was amenable to lowering the top parapet and bringing signage in line with the roof. He also suggested adding evergreen trees as a buffer along the southern property boundary, according to the source.
Opponents also said they feared the property’s proximity to Route 208 could entice someone to store drugs at the storage facility. Gregory Meese, an attorney representing SS Glen Rock, countered that those fears were overblown and the storage business would take measures to keep the site safe from criminal elements.
“There are specific prohibitions in the lease from storing weapons, dangerous materials and controlled substances like drugs,” Meese told planners. "There are provisions in the lease that allow the order to inspect different units as well as inspection by the police if necessary. There are security cameras in the hallways as well as around the property itself."
SS Glen Rock is expected to submit formal changes to the project during a scheduled hearing on May 30.