By DOUG LA ROCQUE
NEW LEBANON – For nearly a year the Town of New Lebanon has been debating the pros and cons of self-storage locations and the actual need for them (not the individual storage sheds one might have in their back yard.) Eleven months ago, the town board approved a one-year moratorium on any new construction or expansion of existing facilities.
In that time, the Zoning Re-write Committee (ZRC) delved into the issue as part of their overall zoning re-write for the town and suggested no further self-storage be allowed. The ZRC opinion was forwarded to the planning board, which concurred. The ZRC’s stance came about in part because of some vehement opposition at a public hearing on a new self-storage application and because of complaints that existing facilities had not met all the conditions imposed upon them at the time their application was granted.
Three months ago, the owners of the Coon self-storage on U.S. Route 20, in the western portion of the town, applied for a waiver of the moratorium to construct at least three more self-storage buildings. Under New York State law, a town must consider such applications. That reignited the debate at successive meetings with town supervisor Tistrya Houghtling and board member Norm Rasmussen indicating they saw the need for self-storage, but with some very strict limitations.
At the July council meeting, it was decided to hold a public hearing on the Coon application and on a proposed extension of the moratorium, just prior to the August gathering. To the surprise of many, there was only one comment at the Coon hearing, a gentleman who urged it be rejected because of alleged non-compliance with the conditions set forth in the approved site plan, and to give the ZRC time to investigate what stipulations it might wish to set on self-storage. At the July meeting, the Town Board approved all the ZRC’s code changes, but pulled the self-storage prohibition from that resolution, asking them to reconsider it.
When it came time to decide, the entire board was of the opinion a slow and steady approach was better than a knee jerk reaction. They voted to extend the moratorium for another six months and rejected Coon’s application for an exemption to that moratorium. The vote in each case was unanimous. The councilors have asked the ZRC to return a new proposal on the self-storage issue before the moratorium extension expires.