P&Z approves repo yard on Shelland Street

Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Board approval for an outside storage and auto repossession yard on Shelland Street lays the groundwork to resolve a court case filed by the City of Milford.

By a 7-1 vote at its Dec. 19 meeting, the board approved a modified version of the application, approving the yard and building, but removed a request for two outside storage containers on the property.

The board did agree to an applicant request to not require sidewalk installation, or a donation to the city’s sidewalk fund. Board member Carl Moore was the vote in opposition.

At issue was whether storage containers were permitted in the zone on a permanent basis. Attorney Kevin Curseaden, who is representing Skyline Recovery Service, said he thought they were permitted.

However, City Planner David B. Sulkis said outside storage containers do not comply with the board’s regulations. He said they could be used for no longer than three months.

At the Dec. 19 meeting, Curseaden presented revised plans, saying the proposed 40-ft. by 60-ft. building will be tan, not the barn red color stated at the Dec. 5 public hearing. He said the storage containers fit the definition of outside storage, which is a permitted use in the zone.

“These are not buildings and they are not permanently affixed to the lot,” said Curseaden. “They do not meet the definition of structures. Similar to a tractor trailer, they can be moved with a flatbed truck.”

Curseaden urged the board to approve the plans that evening, saying that Skyline had signed a contract on Dec. 16, 2016 to purchase the property from Jordan Realty, and was nearing a contractual deadline for that purchase, following numerous extensions.

“If the board has issues with the storage containers, I ask the board to approve it without storage containers,” said Curseaden.

In response, Sulkis said, “They can use the inside of their building for storage. I think that takes care of the issue. When we have new construction, people should build what they need. If you need storage, build the appropriate building.”

Curseaden said Skyline is using a site on Raton Drive and has a trial date in January 2018 related to a cease and desist order filed by the zoning enforcement officer. With approval of the Shelland Street lot, and relocation of the business from Raton Drive, the case would be resolved.

The project has a long history that started with the operation on Raton Drive that the company thought was a legal operation, said Curseaden.

In order to make it a legal storage yard, the property has to have a building, and said Skyline “could not come to terms with the landlord to make it compliant.” Skyline did not want to go to the expense of building a structure on property it did not own, he explained.

The unpermitted facility is located on a 1.6-acre vacant lot at the end of Raton Drive in the Limited Industrial District (LI) on property owned by McNeil Enterprises LLC, which lists Roderick C. McNeil III of Lyme, as president and director.

Curseaden also asked the board not to require installation of sidewalks. He said the original subdivision approval did not require sidewalks and the subdivision bond was released without sidewalks installed. He said with 200 feet of frontage, it could cost $10,000 to $15,000 to install sidewalks along the property.

Commenting on the sidewalk issue, Sulkis said the city public works director can order sidewalk installation or sidewalk repair at property owner expense on any property. Sulkis said he would “not have a problem” if the board did not require a donation to the city’s sidewalk fund.

The proposal received no public comment at the Dec. 19 haring. At the Dec. 5 meeting, one Plains Road resident asked if the traffic could be diverted to Bic Drive, as required by city ordinance.

The 1.72-acre property is located in the Housatonic Design District (HDD). Jordan Realty LLC of Milford lists James R. Beard as member. The company plans to erect a 2,400 sq. ft. prefabricated metal building.

Curseaden said there would be two offices in the proposed building, which would be occupied by two different companies. There would be four office employees, six drivers, one flatbed truck, two wreckers and two spotter cars.

Frank Fournier, business owner, said the company has offices in East Hartford, Waterbury, and Plainfield, along with Northampton, Mass. Fournier said the company is required to bag and tag property taken from vehicles and hold it for 60 days.

Fournier said business hours would be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, but cars may be dropped off at any hour of the day or night.