WOLCOTT — The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a warehouse to store personal automobiles following a bitter dispute between residential neighbors and users of the 30,000-square-foot facility.
On Wednesday, the commission unanimously voted to approve an application submitted by Joe Huria, who rents a section of the warehouse at 47 North St. where he stores cars. Other tenants of the property, owned by Michael Homewood, use bays in the garage for similar purposes.
Police have been called to the facility for noise complaints multiple times. Since Zoning Enforcement Officer David Kalinowski issued a cease-and-desist order Sept. 10, police charged three people with simple trespassing because they were using the property in violation of the order.
While Homewood said he’s kicked out the tenants causing problems, neighbors urged the commission to deny the permit because of their past behavior.
Neighbors submitted video to commission members showing tenants revving engines in the parking lot and playing loud music.
Amanda Kosky of Winterbrook Road accused Homewood of vindictively placing a light on his property that shines into her home [Dash] the same day she spoke at a zoning commission meeting on Oct. 21.
Another resident described the noise as sounding “like an automatic weapon being fired continuously for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, over and over.”
Meanwhile, the tenants say they’ve been harassed by the neighbors who don’t like having a commercial facility near their homes.
“I really think it all could have been avoided from the start if the neighbors getting angry with the headlights or cars had just come over,” Joseph Huria said. “Instead I’ve been dealing with police harassment for months now.”
The property is in a General Commercial zone, which allows warehouses as a permitted use.
“I don’t have a problem with the warehousing use, but I think conditions need to be put in to ensure the residential area behind it, that borders this, we protect them from the noise level,” Kalinowski said.
The commission added a condition requiring that garage doors be closed when power tools are in use. Also, Homewood is required to extend a fence on the south side of the property to help block headlights from entering the residential neighborhood. According to the permit, the facility can only operate between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“This is a very reluctant approval, but I hope the conditions will be adhered to and there will be some respect to the neighbors,” Commission Chairwoman Cathe B. Sherman said.