Manalapan zoners approve Route 33 self-storage facility

MANALAPAN – A self-storage facility will be constructed on Route 33 following an approval from the Manalapan Zoning Board of Adjustment.

During a meeting on April 15, Manalapan Land Holdings, LLC, proposed to construct a self-storage facility at 200 Madison Ave., off Route 33. The applicant sought preliminary and final major site plan approval with bulk variances, which were granted in a 7-0 vote by board members following testimony from professionals who represented the applicant.

Attorney Peter G. Licata represented Manalapan Land Holdings, which was seeking a conditional use variance and other relief to construct an 87,320-square-foot, two-story self-storage facility with outdoor vehicle and/or RV/camper parking areas.

The property is in Manalapan’s SED-20/W (Special Economic Development/Warehouse Distribution) zone and partially within the Route 33 Overlay Zone at the northeastern corner of Route 33 and Madison Avenue and contains approximately 6.72 acres.

Among other variances, the applicant sought and received variance relief to permit an existing lot area of 6.7 acres where a minimum of 20 acres is required and to permit an existing improvable area of 3.73 acres where a minimum of 10 acres is required.

Engineer James Henry of Dynamic Engineering reviewed the site for the zoning board members.

He said the property where the self-storage facility was proposed is adjacent to property where Toll Brothers is constructing an adult community (the adult community was initially approved for construction by K. Hovnanian).

Henry said the self-storage building would not border any homes in the adult community because the homes are set back a considerable distance from Route 33. There will be access to the self-storage business from Route 33 westbound and from Madison Avenue.

The two-story building will have 316 storage units of varying sizes on the first floor and 514 storage units of varying sizes on the second floor. Individuals will be able to rent space in an outdoor parking area for the storage of boats and recreational vehicles, Henry said.

One significant variance the applicant sought and received was approval for a 143-foot setback from Route 33 where a 200-foot setback is required. The self-storage building will be 25 feet tall, which complies with Manalapan’s development regulations, according to the engineer.

The next professional to testify on behalf of the applicant was planner Jim Kyle, who explained the need for a variance for the project’s floor area ratio (FAR).

Although the proposed project will exceed the permitted FAR, Kyle said that factor “will not result in the over-development of this site. This (business) is a good, efficient use of the site.”

He explained that much of the excess FAR is accounted for in a calculation that includes the site’s storm water management infrastructure.

The development of the property – which was previously approved for an office building – will include a berm on Route 33 that will help to shield the self-storage building from the highway, the removal of an existing billboard, and other landscaping on the 6-acre parcel where the building will be constructed, according to the testimony of Henry and Kyle.

The zoning board’s planner, Jennifer Beahm said, “We have worked with this applicant for 18 months. They have been extremely compliant with our requests (on various aspects of development). They have addressed all of my concerns.”

The board’s engineer, Brian Boccanfuso, commended the applicant specifically on the landscaping plan for Route 33 and the land that will be developed. He said the plan is “100% to our satisfaction.”

Boccanfuso said a self-storage facility would have virtually no impact on adjacent road systems.

Board member Adam Weiss said he was “very impressed by the presentations that were offered by Mr. Henry, Mr. Kyle and Mr. Licata.”

No one from the public commented on the application when given the opportunity to do so.

In summation, Licata requested that the board grant the variances and approve the site plan.

A motion was made to approve the Manalapan Land Holdings, LLC, application and board members David Schertz, Basil Mantagas, Larry Cooper, Mollie Kamen, Robert Gregowicz, Weiss and Chairman Steve Leviton voted “yes” on the motion.