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Thread: Self-storage in residential zones

  1. #1
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    Self-storage in residential zones

    I am currently working on a project which involves obtaining a variance for a self-storage building in a multi-family zoning district. Do any of you know of zoning ordinances that allow self-storage use as an as-of-right or special permit use in a residential zone? If so, please let me know.

    Thanks.

    Sophie

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sophie M
    Do any of you know of zoning ordinances that allow self-storage use as an as-of-right (snip) use in a residential zone? If so, please let me know.
    I believe they are commonly referred to as garages.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    from my experiences, self-storage has always been classified a light industrial use. Shouldn't be in residential areas due to the commerical nature of the business and lighting and late hours. But shouldn't be in the commerical areas because of the lack of retail/sales tax generating ability. Plus it consumes an awful lot of land for a relativley low-intesity type of use.

    If they are applying for a variance, they have a tough case ahead of them. A use variation? Isn't there any other industrial land or properly zoned land available for a mini-self storage facility?
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    My experience is light industrial by right and commercial by conditional use. Depending on the size of the facility, the hours and traffic can be intrusive.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Not permitted in residential districts.
    Allowed in higher commercial and all industrial district.
    Is not on our special use list.
    Oddball
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  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I'm with the pack on this one. I confess I've never seen storage units as a permitted use (principal or special) within residential zones, they've always been in industrial or commercial zones in any community I've worked with. The two uses are inherently conflicting. While having self storage facilities nearby to one's dwelling would no doubt be convenient, the facilities would likely exert considerable negative impacts on their surrounding neighbors - namely traffic and more significantly with regards to security issues. The trouble is these facilities often resemble stalag 17, being surrounded by high fences (yes, sometimes complete with barbed wire!) and always with bright security lighting. The bright lights are understandibly necessary from a security standpoint - who would want to store their stuff in a facility easily accesable to crooks. On the other hand I wouldn't call anyone a NIMBY who didn't want to live next door to the Gestapo headquarters.
    A community could create special/conditional use standards to accomodate such a use which would include lots of things like huge space buffers, light limits, screening, etc. but at this point I think one would be further ahead to say that if such conditions are possible to adequately protect residential areas, one should instead consider rezoning the property in question to industrial. However, the propriety of such a rezoning should always take into account the character of the area, existing infrastructure, future land use, etc....
    I realize that communities often use multi-family zones as transitional buffers from more intense uses but I think it's another thing altogether to allow a use which is industrial in character within the multi-family zones themselves.
    Lastly, and here I can only speak for Michigan only, I believe one of the standards for a use variance is that the land in question cannot reasonably be used in a manner consistent with the uses allowed in the zoning district (other planners may perhaps confirm or set me straight on this point). It is difficult to conceive of a scenario where one could have property suitable for accomodating a storage facility but not a multi-family use (which has been zoned presumably with that end in mind).
    Last edited by Maister; 16 Feb 2004 at 12:46 PM.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    I agree with everyone else - commercial or industrial only. However, in Florida we have had increasing requests for RV/boat storage areas on the fringe of residential subdivisions. We've allowed it as a part of Planned Developments, and conditioned the heck out of them, but the Boards have generally understood that people are going to have boats and RV's and often can't park them on their lot due to deed restrictions. Maybe a case could be made for a use like that that supports the subdivision, with a ton of conditions, but I can't see any valid argument for the need for a general mini-storage building.

  8. #8
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    A few cities that allow self-storage in residential areas!

    Colorado Springs, Reno, Pueblo, Mobile, Oklahoma City all seem to allow self-storage either as of right or under special permit in multi-family districts. Are there any others??

  9. #9

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    We allow ministorage with a Conditional Use Permit in our multifamily (RH and RVH) districts-subject to some pretty restrictive limitations. Specifically-these projects can only be allowed on smaller infill sites (less than 2 acres) and must meet certain design standards.

  10. #10

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    Gee. That's a list of places not to live. Even those with scenic mountain views (the Springs and Reno) are grim.

    In most states it would simply be unlawful to issue a variance for self-storage in a residential zoning district. I infer that you must be working in New Jersey, which is one of the few places where use variances are even discussed. But it still doesn't meet the hardship test unless you can adduce evidence that the parcel doesn't have any use for residential purposes.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Excuse my ignorance... but how does one get a variance for a use that wouldn't normally be allowed in a zone? I've never seen a variance to add a use for a particular district. That would usually take a legislative action such as amending the zoning ordinance/bylaw or by amending the zoning map (at least in my experience).

    Edit: Heh... I guess I should have read Lee's post a little more carefully. That's the first that I've ever heard of a 'use variance'.
    Last edited by nerudite; 23 Feb 2004 at 8:30 PM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Use Variance

    We have use variances here. They must be considered "similar to or compatible with" a use permitted in the zone in which they are to be located.

    The purpose of them was to be a catch all for uses that were not considered at the time of the preparation of the by-law, but that came into being. Now they are used to avoid politically unpopular rezonings for minor projects.

    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    use variances

    Edit: Heh... I guess I should have read Lee's post a little more carefully. That's the first that I've ever heard of a 'use variance'.

    Use variances are the scum of the earth, backdoor rezonings. In case you haven't noticed, I don't like them.
    WALSTIB

  14. #14
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    What municipality are you talking about?

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    We allow ministorage with a Conditional Use Permit in our multifamily (RH and RVH) districts-subject to some pretty restrictive limitations. Specifically-these projects can only be allowed on smaller infill sites (less than 2 acres) and must meet certain design standards.
    Could you let me know what municipality we are talking about? Thanks.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sophie M
    Could you let me know what municipality we are talking about? Thanks.
    Fairfield, CA

  16. #16

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    Donk's post shows why the old style of zoning in which every use must be listed should long ago have been scrapped. You actually have to invent a whole new legal mechanism (and one that, as Tom R notes, is really troublesome) in order to make it work.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    My experience is light industrial by right and commercial by conditional use. Depending on the size of the facility, the hours and traffic can be intrusive.
    I concur with what Chet stated, although I have seen it allowed by right in a higher density commercial area. I don't think you want anything that prefers metal spikes around the top of the perimeter fence in a residentially zoned area.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    We allow them by right in very intense commercial districts (think lumberyards, large truck repair, that kind of thing), and industrial zones, although they have gone in near residential areas by variance, and with lots of buffering.
    I don't dream. I plan.

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