CHARLESTOWN — Members of the Planning Commission heard more testimony on the master plan for a proposed self-storage facility Wednesday night and once again continued the public information meeting.
The proposal was the last agenda item in a meeting that did not end until just before midnight, with a large group of residents waiting to speak.
Storage Place LLC is proposing to build a facility on property purchased from Charlestown Willows Inc. The project, which would comprise two 15,000-square foot units fronting Route 1, would be built on 2.8 acres in a flood zone. The plan calls for elevating the site by 1 foot at the road and by 6 feet at the rear of the lot where it slopes to the water. Fill would be trucked to the site.
Representing the developer, attorney Steven Surdut asked project engineer Sergio Cherenzia to address some of the concerns voiced by commission members at a previous hearing regarding environmental impacts.
“I can assure you that the fill on this site will not have any impact on adjoining properties,” Cherenzia said.
Project architect Julia Leeming said previous comments on the facility’s visual impact had prompted her to “nuance and animate the street elevations and the buildings themselves.”
Leeming said she had moderated the roof pitches in the proposed buildings, and she also presented the commission with the option of several smaller buildings.
“The second scheme is a village scheme, and in this one, we break up the map of the two buildings so they are perceived as four buildings,” she said.
Testifying as an expert on behalf of the town, John Shevlin, an engineer with the Lincoln-based Pare Corporation, said he had reviewed the project at both the pre-application and master plan stages. Shelving said he wanted more information from the developer on the possible impact of sea level rise on the property, which would contain extensive fill.
“I would ask for more supporting documentation in regards to the findings so we can go in and look at what the impacts would be,” he said.
Most of the homes in the neighborhood have private wells and abutting property owners have expressed concerns about the impact the facility would have on water quality. Attorney Christopher D’Ovidio, who represents Charles Carvette, an abutting owner, called two witnesses, architect Megan Moynihan and engineer Joseph Cardello III, to rebut testimony presented by experts for the developer.
Moynihan told the commission that she did not believe the project as proposed would be compatible with the area.
“These buildings are very large and are not in scale with the surrounding neighborhood,” she said. “It’s very clear that these have a massive presence on the road.”
Cardello said the plan was still largely conceptual, and many of the engineering details for components such as the septic system and a retaining wall were missing.
“Looking at this plan, I just don’t have enough information to make a solid finding that this particular site can be developed in this manner,” he said. “I’m not saying it can’t be, but we need a lot more information … Right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions.”
With a roomful of residents waiting to comment and ask questions about the project, the commission asked Surdut if the developer would be willing to extend the deadline for a decision to July 10, and Surdut agreed. The hearing was continued to the next Planning Commission meeting on June 26, when it will be the residents’ turn to speak.