Newton self-storage facility closes doors, frustrates renters

NEWTON — M&E Self Storage was set to close its doors as of 3 p.m. Saturday, leaving many of its renters scrambling to move their belongings out of the space due to what some claim was a lack of sufficient notice by the company.

The owner of the facility, Greg Martorana, was issued a demolition permit on Feb. 26, according to Barbara Daniel of the Hardyston Township Building Department, which shares services with Newton. The permit does not list a date for demolition, she said.

A notice posted on the front door of the facility at 100 Sparta Ave., dated March 14, states, “All items must be removed from the units or they will be disposed of during demolition of the building.”

Daniel said the property owner was only responsible for contacting owners of adjoining properties to advise of the demolition.

Though Martorana said he notified renters of the storage units by certified mail of the closure, many seemed to be taken by surprise.

Ryan Stapel, who had two units filled with items from ReCollectables, said he received a phone call on March 16 from an M&E employee who was recently let go by the company advising him of the impending closure. Along with his wife, Jacky, and their children, the family had spent most of Friday and Saturday clearing out their items and moving them into a storage pod.

“Trying to do all this is ridiculous (with) no notice. Some people have had none, except for that notice on the door,” Ryan Stapel said. “I get it, business-wise, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but give people some time.”

The Stapels said the storage site renters include assisted living residents who have many of their personal belongings there. Ryan Stapel said he was there Friday and saw an elderly woman “bawling her eyes out” because she did not know where should would be able to put her items.

When contacted by the New Jersey Herald Saturday afternoon, an employee of the storage company who answered the phone said Martorana was out of the office and would not be available until Monday.

Regarding the alleged notice by mail of the storage closure, Jacky Stapel said several renters did not receive the letter. She also said M&E significantly reduced its hours immediately after announcing the decision to close, making it difficult for renters to clean out their units.

“It’s not so much that they’re closing. It’s that all the sudden, the minute that it was announced that they were closing, they cut the hours,” Jacky Stapel said. “(Ryan) couldn’t come after work. I have multiple sclerosis; I can’t come over here and start lifting stuff. Plus we have kids.”

Daniel said the building department has received numerous phone calls from those with storage units at M & E Self Storage about the demolition but cannot assist with the issue, which is up to the property owner to resolve under New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code. She added that the building department is not required to know details about the contents of the building being demolished.