EASTHAM — The zoning board of appeals has decided that no more storage units will be coming to North Eastham. At its April 2 meeting, the board unanimously voted to deny Barbara Niggel’s special permit application to construct five storage buildings at 4703 Route 6, the site of Willy’s Gym and four existing storage buildings, all of which Niggel owns.
Niggel, represented by attorney Ben Zehnder, and her companies, Goeroe’s Goldens and Stow Away, initially proposed constructing six storage buildings on the site of the outdoor tennis courts on the Willy’s property. But the final proposal presented on April 2 had only five.
Along with an updated site plan, landscaping plan, and other documents, Zehnder also presented a market feasibility study that indicated there was an unmet need for storage in a five-mile radius of the site. The study was conducted by Self Storage 101, a consulting company.
The document compared the proposed operation to the nearby storage facility called Wellfleet Sun Self Storage but did not include Magnum Moving and Storage in Eastham.
“A broader net needs to be cast for an examination of the market to be valid,” ZBA member Steve Wasby said.
Questions had been raised previously by board members and the public about the need for more storage units in the area, runoff and groundwater protection, and the maintenance and cleanliness of the existing storage buildings.
The ZBA determined that there was not a need for more storage buildings in the area, that the size and scale of the proposed facility (31,000 square feet) and its visual character would be detrimental to the neighborhood, that the existing storage facility is in a state of disrepair and has become a nuisance, and that the application failed to include restrictions on hazardous materials.
“I’m a strong believer in past history as an indicator of future performance,” board member Brian Ridgeway said.
Storage units are not allowed in Eastham’s transitional commercial zoning district, so Niggel needed special permit approval from both the ZBA and planning board. Existing storage units in the area were built before the town restructured its zoning districts and allowable uses.
“In the history of this property, there has never been a report of the release of hazardous materials,” Zehnder said, referring to the groundwater protection issue. “There’s just no evidence that these storage units are a potential harm to groundwater.”
But ZBA chair Ed Schneiderhan said the lack of plans from the applicant to ban storage of hazardous materials in the units posed a risk.
“There’s little ability on the part of the town to ensure that hazardous materials are not being stored in any of the storage units, or, in fact, the existing storage units,” Schneiderhan said.
The zoning board’s decision can be appealed. The application is still scheduled to be heard by the planning board on April 15, according to Town Planner Paul Lagg.
Editor’s note: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misattributed a statement to ZBA member Steve Wasby; the statement was made by board member Brian Ridgeway.