EASTHAM — At a contentious zoning board of appeals meeting on Feb. 6, several residents spoke out against a proposal by Barbara Niggel and her companies, Goeroe’s Goldens and Stow Away, to construct six new storage units at 4730 State Highway. Focusing on the need for a better management plan for the property, the board decided to continue the hearing to its March 5 meeting.
Niggel is seeking a special permit to add six storage units to the four she already operates at the same site. The permit is required because of the intensified use of the property.
Thursday was second hearing date for this application. A month earlier, the ZBA continued the hearing, asking Niggel and her attorney, Ben Zehnder, to provide a better site management plan and a map clearly indicating the site’s abutters.
The plan they presented last week did not please the board. “This is a grossly inadequate management plan,” ZBA member Steve Wasby told Zehnder. “I think you should be embarrassed by it.”
Meanwhile, public comments and letters suggested that Niggel has not maintained her existing storage units adequately.
Eastham resident Jim Cantor wrote that “the entire property has been neglected for years.” And Steve Magliano, who owns Magnum Moving and Storage in Eastham, said, “I have been all over the place in moving and storage, and I have not seen many more junk, trashy places in my life than here.”
Other comments included a question about the hours of operation of the units and a concern that the new units would cut off access to a popular walking path. Niggel said she would make sure the path was not affected by the construction.
ZBA members briefly discussed whether more storage units were necessary in town. A letter supporting Niggel’s application was submitted by Deb Mangelus, who said she has been a satisfied customer of Stow Away for 12 years. “Given the sometimes nomadic culture of Cape Cod residents I know quite a few people who are in need of storage space,” she wrote.
Zehnder said whether or not more storage units are needed should not be a factor in the ZBA’s decision-making process.
When Dave Hobbs questioned Niggel’s application on the grounds of her past business problems as the owner of Willy’s World Wellness and Conference Center, he was cut off by both Zehnder and ZBA Chair Ed Schneiderhan.
“We have an obligation to look at the application under the law — not innuendo, not comments of strictly prior activity,” Schneiderhan said.
In the end, the ZBA’s decision to continue the hearing focused on the maintenance of the existing storage units. “I would have difficulty in approving these units because I see little evidence of a well-managed existing storage unit facility,” Schneiderhan said.
To meet the board’s requirements, Zehnder must now submit additional materials by Feb. 27.
Specifications on proposed exterior lights, a Google/GIS map with abutting properties identified, revised building elevation plans, example vendor photos of the proposed storage buildings, a sample lease document for rental units, a revised management/operations plan, and documentation of the rental status of the current storage units on the site are among the items the town would like to review, according to town planner Paul Lagg.
The special permit needs approval from both the ZBA and planning board. The planning board is scheduled to hear the application at its next meeting on Feb. 19. Niggel’s application was also continued from that board’s previous meeting.