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Proposed code change could open up more space for dealerships to store vehicles

Changes to the town zoning code could set guidelines for car dealership storage areas to accommodate their need for more space to store inventory.

Jeff Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator, said dealerships have said auto manufacturers are requiring they take larger minimum orders for cars.

“As you’ve seen, car dealers have been very creative in trying to locate them wherever they can,” he said, noting that has resulted in numerous violations issued to the businesses.

The code committee is recommending accessory car storage facilities be located in Industrial A zones, which covers land from Edwards Avenue to the eastern boundary of Splish Splash and includes area near Manor Road and some portions along Route 58. Car storage in those zones is not currently allowed.

According to a draft of the code, car storage facilities would be required to have 50-foot setbacks from the front, side and rear lot lines, and physically defined with adequate fencing.

“It’s going to be looking like a shopping center at Christmas time with the whole parking lot filled up,” Mr. Murphree said. “It’s going to be visible, so we’d like to have some mitigation to that.”

Fueling, washing, servicing and sales would be prohibited on the sites, though Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said washing should be allowed.

Mr. Murphree said that car washing could lead to concerns over soaps entering the ground as well as drainage issues.

“New car washes that are being approved … it’s the same thing as swimming pools,” Ms. Giglio said. “It’s regulated as to what they can use and put into the ground.

She added that she’d like to seek feedback from dealerships. 

“For tax purposes, a vacant lot with storing cars, there’s no real change in assessed value,” she said. “But if we start putting structures on it, then there is.”

The proposed code would also prohibit tree clearing to create new storage areas and ban the storage of used or junk vehicles. 

“The use has to be associated with a car dealership that is within the town. You can’t have a Brooklyn dealer storing cars here,” Mr. Murphree said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith asked if Splish Splash, which is in the Industrial A district, would be allowed to store cars on its property. 

Town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said it would likely require a special permit and be subject to site plan approval.

A map provided by Mr. Murphree includes an 8.76-acre property in Calverton that is currently the subject of a four-lot subdivision application. Last fall, the applicants stated that car storage was an attractive potential use for one of the lots.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said the code change will alleviate issues with car deliveries along Route 58. 

“There is nothing more dangerous on Route 58 than when they’re unloading cars,” he said.

The proposed change will be subject to a public hearing, which the board has not set a date for yet.

Photo caption: A map that shows an outline of Industrial Zone A. (Note: The photo has been altered to correct the placement of zones B and C.)

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