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City Council Work Session
Meeting Date: 01/22/2019  
Subject:    Discussion of Interim Ordinance Related to Self-Storage Facilities
From: Grant Fernelius, Community Development Director

Staff would like to discuss the topic of a development moratorium (interim ordinance) related to self-storage facilities.
In recent months there have been two requests related to self-storage facilities.  One of those proposals involved a site at 101st Avenue and Foley Boulevard and was ultimately approved by the Council.  The other was the proposal at Vale Street, which the Planning Commission denied and the City Council affirmed on a subsequent appeal by the applicant.  During these discussions there were questions raised about the number of facilities in town, the different types of self-storage facilities and where these uses are allowed (zoning districts).  Self-storage facilities are allowed as a conditional use in the General Commercial district; accessory outdoor storage is not allowed. In the Industrial district, self-storage facilities are a permitted use; outdoor storage accessory to a self-storage facility is also allowed but requires a conditional use permit. Internally, staff has had conversations about examining these uses and looking at tighter standards in the future.

Staff is aware of development interest for two additional facilities.  It appears there is growing pressure for these kinds of uses and it is likely the City could see even more requests in the future.  Given the concerns raised above, staff believes it might be prudent to pause and assess/study the current policy and legislative options regarding self-storage facilities.  The only way to suspend application requests on a temporary basis is through a development moratorium.  The development moratorium would be enacted by interim ordinance. 

Under Minnesota law an interim ordinance can be put in place for up to one year.  Staff believes a minimum of six-months would be needed and it could be extended up to six additional months if necessary.  The City would need to carefully craft the ordinance and specify its purpose and what issues to study.   During the effective date of the interim ordinance, the City would not accept any development applications related to self-storage facilities, regardless of location. 

Without holding a special meeting, the earliest an interim ordinance could be considered is February 5th (introduction), followed by a vote on February 19th.  Under the City’s Charter, the ordinance would become effective 15 days after publication if adopted (March 9th).  One concern is the upcoming submittal deadlines for Planning Commission review.  There will be no Planning Commission meeting in February.  The deadline for the March meeting is February 11th, while the deadline for the April meeting is March 11th.  As of this week, staff haven’t received any applications for self-storage facilities, although staff continues to receive inquiries and believe that one or more applications may be imminent in the near future.  Staff does have a meeting with a developer scheduled for next week to discuss one of the potential locations. 

The Council may have the ability to adopt an interim ordinance on an emergency basis, making it effective upon its initial introduction (February 5th) thereby condensing the timeframe.  The City did this (moratorium, emergency ordinance) in 2002 when the River Rapids Overlay District was being considered and eventually adopted.
Staff requests the City Council discuss a potential moratorium on new self-storage units and whether or not staff should draft an ordinance for formal consideration.

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