The Coon Rapids City Council is preparing to hit the pause button on new self-storage facilities in the city.

At a work session Jan. 22, the council directed staff to draft an interim ordinance to place a moratorium on these types of developments in the wake of two recent proposals, one of which was approved and the other denied.

In addition, applications for more new self-storage facilities loom on the horizon, according to Grant Fernelius, community development director.

The council is likely to adopt the interim moratorium ordinance Feb. 19 to allow staff to study and assess current policy. The moratorium would go into effect March 9.

Under state law, the moratorium can remain in effect for a year, but Fernelius said the study is expected to take only six months; it could be extended another six months, if necessary.

However, the interim ordinance must be crafted carefully, specifying the purpose and what issues to study, he said.

Council discussions during consideration of the two recent self-storage proposals raised questions about the number of facilities in the city – Fernelius did not know how many there were at this time – the different types and the zoning districts where they are allowed.

They are allowed as a conditional use in the general commercial district, but accessory outdoor storage is not permitted, while in the industrial zoning district, self-storage facilities are a permitted use and outdoor accessory storage is allowed with approval of a conditional use permit, Fernelius said.

“Internally, staff has had conversations about examining these uses and looking at tighter standards in the future,” he said.

As part of the moratorium study, staff will look at how self-storage facilities are handled in other cities.

In pushing for the moratorium now, staff is aware of new self-storage facility interest from two additional developers, one of whom met with staff in mid-January, Fernelius said.

“This project is in the concept stage and not imminent, but an application could be made in the spring,” he said.

According to Fernelius, it appears there is growing pressure for these kinds of uses, and it’s likely the city could see even more requests in the future.

While she was not opposed to the moratorium, Council Member Jennifer Geisler said the issue for her was more about building site plan and design elements; for example the self-storage facility approved by the council in November (she opposed it) was designed to look like an office building with LED lighting that would impact neighboring uses at night.

Council Member Brad Johnson said the moratorium would be helpful for the city to determine the amount of regulatory control necessary with the new business models for self-storage developments that have evolved over time.

“I have no problem putting a hold on this,” Council Member Steve Wells said.

Council Members Brad Greskowiak and Bill Kiecker and Mayor Jerry Koch also expressed support for the moratorium.

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