Neighbors launch petition to block storage facility on landmark property

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Homeowners along Forest Hill Avenue are fighting to stop a large storage facility from going up in place of a neighborhood landmark.

The project needs a special use permit. If granted, the permit would allow the old Forest View Rescue Squad property to switch from residential to commercial, paving the way for the facility to go up in the middle of the neighborhood.

An online petition against the facility gained more than 100 signatures in a matter of hours Wednesday.

8fb073188e07478a9080afc44f6b148c“If we’re enjoying our deck or enjoying our pool in the summer, I don’t want to have to look at a commercial building next to me,” said Krystyna Lineberry, who launched the Change.org petition and shares a property line with the lot in question. “I think the effect on my property value would be very detrimental.”

She and her neighbors said they are ready for battle over the future of the less than-two acre property. “We are opposed to this scale of construction here,” Lineberry said.

A self-storage facility is proposed on the property, made up of as many as 700 units, some as large as 150 square feet.

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“I don’t’ see how that’s feasible on this size property,” added Lineberry.

Property owners said a neighborhood is not the place for a storage facility, fearing it would create an eyesore next to homes.

af9a4165c8f248828627562f5286f74b“If I ever put my house on the market and people walk out back and see this monstrosity of a storage unit, that’s a pretty big negative,” said Paul Hamlet, whose property also borders the lot being developed.

There are concerns over increased lights, noise and constant activity if the permit is granted and the facility is built.

“Traffic’s a big issue; a lot of people are concerned about theft,” Hamlet said.

In July 2016, developer Michael C. Hanky of Hanky, LLC sent a letter to neighbors explaining that he had recently signed a contract to purchase the property.

“All storage units will be contained inside the building and out of public view,” Hanky wrote. “I believe this use is a great fit for the location due to its low impact on surrounding properties. The type of storage building that I am proposing incorporates area appropriate architecture, is extremely quiet and generates very little traffic.”

A subsequent letter dated November 21 from the developer’s attorney informed property owners that the building had been redesigned based on comments received ‘in an effort to offer a more aesthetically pleasing view and preserve sight lines from neighboring property.’

“The facility would incorporate a neighborhood appropriate design, 4-sided architecture and high quality building materials including brick, split-faced CMU and synthetic stucco,” wrote attorney Andrew Condlin. “The facility would be fully enclosed with all storage areas offering 100% climate controlled units that would only be accessible from within the building.”

Condlin added that the facility’s design would block any negative visual or noise impacts, promising screening trees and a 50-foot buffer along the rear of the property. Nonetheless, homeowners are taking a hard-line stance against the project.

“Our neighborhood is more than just houses and people,” said Lineberry. “We are a community.”

“Our neighborhood is more than just houses and people. We are a community.”

8News reached out to Hanky, LLC for a response to the online petition. In an email, Michael Hanky said, “Unfortunately, we are not in a position to make a statement at this time.  We reached out to the community several months ago in an effort to make neighbors aware of our proposal and solicit their feedback.  We have just recently become aware of these concerns and want to respond appropriately at the community meeting.”

The public meeting is scheduled for December 6 at 6:30 PM at the FV Rescue Squad building.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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