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Officials Consider Zoning Change After Rejecting Self-Storage Plan in Chicopee, MA

Update 12/16/15 – The Chicopee City Council is considering a change to its zoning laws that would require self-storage developers to obtain a special-use permit for properties zoned as business. The permit would require approval from the council as well as the planning board, according to the source. The planning board recently voted 5-0 to recommend the zoning change.

December 16, 2015

3 Min Read
Officials Consider Zoning Change After Rejecting Self-Storage Plan in Chicopee, MA

Update 12/16/15 – The Chicopee City Council is considering a change to its zoning laws that would require self-storage developers to obtain a special-use permit for properties zoned as business. The permit would require approval from the council as well as the planning board, according to the source. The planning board recently voted 5-0 to recommend the zoning change.

City officials began to consider the change after Dzhenzherukha’s self-storage proposal was unanimously rejected by planners, even though the board acknowledged the real estate developer had the legal right to pursue the project. More than 20 residents protested the project because the storage facility would have been built within the residential community, the source reported. Several requested additional homes be built on the Leona Avenue property.

Brooks proposed the zoning change after he was approached by residents, according to the source. "[The permit requirement] will help to address spot zoning," he said. "It is one small step in what is a multi-step process."

Spot zoning has become common in Chicopee because businesses are frequently located next to homes, the source reported. The proposed self-storage site was on a dead-end street.

9/9/15 – Planning-board members in Chicopee, Mass., this week rejected the preliminary site plan for a self-storage facility in a residential neighborhood after homeowners spoke against the proposal. While they agreed real estate developer Vitaly Dzhenzherukha has the legal right to build the storage property, they voted 6-0 to reject the project. Because there’s no appeal process, Dzhenzherukha will have to reapply if he decides to move forward with his development, according to the source. 

The site plan included five buildings containing 162 storage units on the 1.7-acre parcel at 133 Leona Ave. Residents voiced their concerns about the facility’s operating hours and increased traffic. "There are a lot of children on the street, and abutting that property is a city park," said Stephanie Tarrant, who lives on Leona Avenue, which is a dead end.

Others pointed out the business would also back up to the single-family homes on Champagne Avenue and Daniel Drive. "This is not the appropriate place for this facility. This is a quiet neighborhood. We want it to stay that way,” said Mark Hammon, who lives on Daniel Drive. Community members said they’d rather see more single-family homes built on the empty parcel.

Although the property is zoned for business, city councilor Shane D. Brooks, who represents the ward where the land is located, asked if it’s zoned appropriately for this particular type of business. "This is the exact definition of spot zoning,” he said.

The parcel was zoned for business in 1952, enabling the owner of the land to build a storage facility by right, according to James Dawson, the city’s assistant planner. During the planning-board discussion, member Elin Gaynor questioned whether there was a legal reason to defeat the plan.

Prior to submitting the self-storage proposal, Dzhenzherukha suggested building a condominium complex. However, he would’ve needed 20 waivers from the city, so he abandoned the idea, Dawson said.

Dzhenzherukha, a real estate broker with Grimaldi & Burzdak Realtors Inc., didn’t attend the meeting, but a representative was there on his behalf, the source reported.

Sources:

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