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Zoning (out) storage units?

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
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I need to discuss this with legal but want to take Cyburbia's pulse on this use. Does your jurisdiction limit the number of storage unit businesses? Distance separation? I know state law here allows check cashing businesses (non-depository institutions) to be limited and hope we can curtail storage units - City Council is not a fan.
 
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mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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I will be watching this thread as we may be looking to do this (along with outdoor material handling uses).

In my state, local income tax is a large part of City budgets, so encouraging land uses with lots of people working on-site is typically a priority.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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14,349
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My city requires a special permit which goes to city council for approval. Our special permit is different than use permits which only require a hearing officer to look at it. Sadly our council just allows everything.
 

Gedunker

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Until recently, mini-storage - self-storage places were running amok here. Now, they are a Special Exception use in our highway district and permitted as of right in our industrial district. Land values in the industrial district ought to mostly preclude them there and our SX process will almost always find them not compatible with our Comp Plan.

I've strongly encouraged people considering them to do a market study, mostly because I'm sure the result would scare them off. We are, sadly, overbuilt with these uses. (Jeez, people, just toss that junk already!!)
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
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We redid our zoning on them for locations outside of industrial districts a few years ago...this is what we came up with:

Conditional Use Permit: Pursuant to the authority provided in RSA 674:21, the Planning Board may grant a Conditional Use Permit for Alternative Treatment Centers (Non-Cultivation Location) and Self-Storage Facilities within the C 2 District.

...

2. Self Storage Facilities

a) Purpose & Intent: Self-Storage Facilities have characteristics in common with both commercial uses and industrial uses. This subsection provides regulations to appropriately site Self-Storage Facilities in the C-2 District while maintaining the desired character and function of those zones. In general, Self-Storage Facilities generate low levels of vehicular and pedestrian activity and typically do not contribute to the vitality of a commercial area compared to other commercial uses. Historically self-storage facilities have visually resembled industrial facilities, but some trends in the industry have featured designs compatible with higher quality commercial development. If designed appropriately as stand-alone structures that emulate the exterior architecture of residential or multi-family residential or as components located within larger commercial/ office developments, Self-Storage Facilities may be located without adversely impacting the intent of the C-2 District or surrounding neighborhoods, provided the criteria below are satisfied.

b) The following criteria must be satisfied in order for the Planning Board to grant a Conditional Use Permit for Self-Storage Facilities:

  1. Granting of the application would meet some public need or convenience;
  2. Granting of the application is in the public interest;
  3. The property in question is reasonably suited for the use requested;
  4. The use requested would not have a substantial adverse effect on the rights of the owners of surrounding properties;
  5. There must be appropriate provision for access facilities adequate for the estimated traffic from public streets and sidewalks, so as to assure public safety and to avoid traffic congestion;
  6. Electrical service to storage units shall be for lighting and climate control only. No electrical outlets are permitted inside individual storage units. Lighting fixtures and switches shall be of a secure design that will not allow tapping the fixtures for other purposes;
  7. If the facility abuts residentially zoned property, the facility loading bays, docks or doors shall not be visible from the residential property or from public rights-of-way;
  8. In order to promote visual compatibility with commercial development allowed in commercial zones, Self-Storage Facility buildings shall incorporate appropriate landscaping/screening and architectural and design features common to commercial and/or multifamily development. (Examples of such architectural and design features include: massing; proportion; facade modulation; exterior building materials and detailing; varied roofline; pedestrian scale; fenestration; repetition; etc.).
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
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953
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20
"If designed appropriately as stand-alone structures that emulate the exterior architecture of residential or multi-family residential"

This feels weird to me - to some degree, shouldn't form follow function as it relates to the design characteristics of various uses? Why should a self-storage box share, say, the facade articulation of a nearby multifamily development? If your local multifamily context is townhomes with bay windows and gabled roofs, asking a self storage project to include contextual architectural features that mimic that seems odd.

Shouldn't a Life Storage box just be allowed to be a box, ultimately?

In the community I planned for previously, we had draft zoning text that would have allowed self storage uses to site in certain industrial zones IF they would find a way to co-locate with a ground floor industrial use, but we ended up going in a different direction via a special permit requirement. The rationale being that self storage uses are not much of a job creator and that the REIT money spigot allows self storage developers to outbid other potential users of a given parcel and overproliferate.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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This feels weird to me - to some degree, shouldn't form follow function as it relates to the design characteristics of various uses? Why should a self-storage box share, say, the facade articulation of a nearby multifamily development? If your local multifamily context is townhomes with bay windows and gabled roofs, asking a self storage project to include contextual architectural features that mimic that seems odd.

Shouldn't a Life Storage box just be allowed to be a box, ultimately?
If you want a strictly utilitarian built environment, sure, apply the "form follows function" philosophy. However, the end result will be just another "anyplace USA/Canada/etc" type of community.

In my experience, self storage facilities are never just holding uses. They're permanent. The "town next door" is a dumping ground for self storage facilities, and a lot of them are awful -- they really are just collections of metal boxes, with no landscaping, screening, or even paved surfaces. Just metal sheds plopped down on the ground, maybe some gravel drives, and that's all. In even more rural communities, I've seen some self-storage facilities made up of just scattered shipping containers.

Years and years ago, in a different planning life, I reviewed a site plan for a self-storage facility in a residential context. I'll see if I can find the staff report, but here's the end result. The mini-storage acted as a kind of buffer between a light industrial use and residential areas, and blending in was critical. Masonry construction, pitched roofs, good landscaping, and exterior walls with some pilasters. The community had very strong neighborhood organizations, and I don't remember anybody protesting the project.

Here's another self-storage facility that I reviewed. Again, in a transitional area between suburban commercial and residential areas. Lots of landscaping, good screening, masonry and stucco cladding, and a residential face to the busiest fronting street. Again, no NIMBY that I could recall.

The big case against self-storage -- why build all that expensive road, sewer, and water infrastructure, just to serve a passive use that doesn't need any of it? The tax return from self-storage is low.
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
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953
Points
20
If you want a strictly utilitarian built environment, sure, apply the "form follows function" philosophy. However, the end result will be just another "anyplace USA/Canada/etc" type of community.

In my experience, self storage facilities are never just holding uses. They're permanent. The "town next door" is a dumping ground for self storage facilities, and a lot of them are awful -- they really are just collections of metal boxes, with no landscaping, screening, or even paved surfaces. Just metal sheds plopped down on the ground, maybe some gravel drives, and that's all. In even more rural communities, I've seen some self-storage facilities made up of just scattered shipping containers.


The big case against self-storage -- why build all that expensive road, sewer, and water infrastructure, just to serve a passive use that doesn't need any of it? The tax return from self-storage is low.
This is why I'm in favor of writing in a mixed use co-location requirement into self-storage zoning text - self storage does not add value, they are a black hole of value, frankly, to everyone except the investors making money hand over fist off of them, because they are extremely lucrative. They lock up a parcel with a use that gives little back to the community. Requiring that, say, X% of the ground floor use must be light industrial or some other compatible use within the district in question at least gets you some of that value back.

That said, I'm still not in favor of dressing up self-storage boxes with contextual architectural features if the surrounding context would yield features that are contrary and not germane to the function of the use on that parcel. Sure, require ground floor fenestration so that their box doesn't present as blank to the street. I can get behind that.

Dan, your example of self storage from CO was totally not what I had in mind. I was thinking more like this https://goo.gl/maps/MpFf1Zw9M6nhofvv6

The land values (and scarcity) in the communities that I've planned for make the shed-style self storage a nonstarter. I can see how design guidelines for what ultimately amount to small freestanding sheds could be valuable.
 
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SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
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1,371
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My CC just eliminated all CUPs in the City until we can take back the table to them to change what was a CUP to a permitted use. We will massage these uses a little to allow or prohibit in some zones. Some of the former CUP uses will have additional standards which is the reason for my question of separation or limiting based on population.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Dan, your example of self storage from CO was totally not what I had in mind. I was thinking more like this https://goo.gl/maps/MpFf1Zw9M6nhofvv6
Oooh. Yeah. I get it.

I think industrial buildings, in an industrial context, should still look halfway decent. Design requirements in suburban Denver zoning codes also apply to industrial buildings, and the outcome looks pretty good, in my opinion. (I reviewed a bunch of these too, in a past life.) You don't get the crappy metal buildings that are so commonplace around here. However, the building in your link is ... ugh. It's a pastiche if I ever saw one. It reminds me of this "urban mixed use" building in a suburban context.
 

Dan

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