Print Back to Calendar Return
City Council Work Session
Meeting Date: 07/09/2019  
Subject:    Update on Self-Storage Facilities Moratorium
From: Scott Harlicker, Planner

On February 9th, the City Council adopted Ordinance 2218, which put in place a 6-month development mortarium on new self-storage facilties or the expansion of existing ones.  The moratorium took effect on March 9th and will run through September 9th, unless extended by the City Council.  On April 9th, the City Council discussed the topic again and asked staff to assemble additional information to help determine whether code changes are needed regarding self-storage facilities. To that end, staff has researched the self-storage industry; the current status of facilities in Coon Rapids and adjacent cities; how other cities regulate self-storage facilities and how Coon Rapids compares to other communities with regard to the number of facilities.  Staff has also identifed a few policy areas for discussion on Tuesday night.
Industry Trends

The demand for new self-storage facilities is being driven by several factors, including demographics, employment and lifestyle trends.  The supply and location of new projects coming to market has been influenced by the availability of land/sites suitable for such uses, population densities, existing facilities, projected rents and competition among investors in this real estate sector.  The strongest product type is indoor self-storage that is climate controlled.  Two of the facilities approved in the last year in Coon Rapids were in this category.

According to an article in the trade publication Real Estate Investor, on a national level there has been a decline in the construction of new facilities primarily due to a lack of rent growth, which weakens the financal viability of projects.  Between 2018 and 2019 there was a significant reduction in the number of new projects approved and under construction.  However, there is wide variability across the country and in places like the Twin Cities, the market still seems poised for growth. To that point, a Q4 2018 Colliers International report stated there is strong demand for new indoor self-storage facilities, along with the conversion of existing industrial properties into these uses.  The report acknowledges that in some areas of the region, the market is already saturated with self-storage facilities and many cities are struggling to regulate the use.  In fact, a number of cities have enacted development moratoriums to study the impact of these facilties.

Current Zoning Regulations

In Coon Rapids, there are two districts in which self-storage facilities are allowed: 1) General Commercial district as a conditional use (accessory outdoor storage is not permitted); and 2) Industrial district (permitted use), with outdoor storage allowed as an accessory use, but with a conditional use permit. Sites that require a conditional use permit, as well as site plan approval, are subject to additional findings found in Section 11-304.2 Findings for Approval. Sites that are located within the River Rapids Overlay district are subject to specific findings found in Section 11-1003.8(5), in addition to the regular CUP standards found in Section 11-304.2.

Existing and Approved Facilities

Existing Facilities

9145 University Avenue
The facility was approved in 1976. The property was zoned General Commercial when the applicant a made application. During the review process the City changed the zoning to include PUD. Since the property was developed the underlying zoning has been changed to Community Commercial/PUD. The buildings are single story with overhead doors accessing the units.

11365 Robinson Drive
This facility was approved in 1986. The applicant was granted site plan and special use permit approval. The property was zoned General Commercial at the time of application and remains General Commercial today. The buildings are typical single story with overhead doors. In 1997, the facility was expanded to its current configuration. The 1997 approval included the two story building and outdoor storage for up to 4 vehicles.

9909 Vale Street
The site plan for this facility was approved in 1987. The property was zoned Industrial at the time of application. The zoning remains Industrial today, but is within the River Rapids Overlay District. The property was included in the River Rapids Overlay District several years after it was constructed. The buildings are typical single story with overhead doors. Outdoor storage was included in the approval.

10201 Woodcrest Drive
The site plan and special use permit for this facility was approved in 1988. The property was zoned General Commercial at the time of application and remains General Commercial today. The buildings are typical one story with overhead doors.

3476 Coon Rapids Boulevard
The site plan and conditional use permit for this facility was approved in 2001. The approval also included truck and trailer rental. The property was zoned General Commercial at the time of application and remains General Commercial today. It was included in the River Rapids Overlay District shortly after it was constructed. The storage is indoors within a two story building.

11230 University Avenue
The site plan and conditional use permit for this facility was approved in 1982. The property was zoned General Commercial at the time of application and remains General Commercial today. The buildings are typical one story with overhead doors. Outdoor storage was not included in the approval.

730 86th Avenue
The site plan and PUD was approved in 1999. The property was zoned Industrial at the time of application and remains Industrial/PUD today. The building is one story with overhead doors and there is no outdoor storage.

Approved Facilities

220 101st Avenue (Foley and 101st Avenue)
In November 2018, Council approved an amendment to a PUD to allow a 4-story indoor self-storage facility. The property has an underlying zoning of General Commercial. No outdoor storage was approved.

3021 124th Avenue
In April of this year the Planning Commission approved of a 3-story indoor self-storage facility. The property is zoned General Commercial. No outdoor storage was approved.

Comparison with Other Cities

Staff looked at the following cities for comparison: Blaine, Fridley, Andover, Anoka, Brooklyn Park and Champlin.  Two of the  cities (Blaine and Brooklyn Park) each have seven facilities and have similar community characteristics when compared to each other.  Coon Rapids has seven existing facilites, but also approved two new projects.  As such, Coon Rapids would have the highest number in comparison to neighboring communities.  Fridley has three facilities and Andover, Anoka and Champlin each have one.  Listed below are the comparisons:

Comparison to Other Cities Approval Process

Commercial (B-2)  CUP – mini-storage w/o outdoor storage
Regional Commercial (B-3) CUP – mini storage w/o outdoor storage
Light Industrial (I-1)  and (I-1A) CUP – mini storage with outdoor storage
Heavy Industrial (I-2) CUP – mini storage with outdoor storage
General Business CUP – self storage indoor storage only
Industrial  CUP – self storage indoor storage only
Highway Business (B-1) CUP – mini storage indoor storage only with specific design standards
Light Industrial (M-3)/Commercial Overlay CUP – mini storage no outdoor storage
Brooklyn Park
General Business District (B-3) CUP – self storage with outdoor storage
Vehicle Sales and Showroom (B-4) CUP – self storage with outdoor storage
Industrial (I) CUP - self storage with outdoor storage
Commercial Mini Storage District (C-3) CUP – commercial mini storage
Created a specific district to allow existing facility

Design Standards

Only Anoka has design standards that apply only to self-storage facilities. The other cities, including Coon Rapids, apply the general design standards applicable to the zoning district within which the facility is located. None of the cities included proximity or separation standards between facilities.

Ratio Facilities Per Population
City Population Number of Facilities Ratio Facilities per Population (1,000)
Coon Rapids 63,272 9 (7 existing; 2 new) 1:7
Brooklyn Park 80,866 7 1:12
Andover 32,470 1 1:32
Champlin 23,690 1 1:24
Blaine 65,369 7 1:9
Anoka 18,205 1 1:18
Fridley 28,667 3 1:10
Ratio Facilities Per Household
City Number of Households Number of Facilities Ratio Facilities per Household
Coon Rapids 24,331 9 1:2,703
Brooklyn Park 27,660 7 1:3,951
Andover 10,445 1 1:10,445
Champlin 8,519 1 1:8,519
Blaine 23,946 7 1:3,420
Anoka 7,525 1 1:7,525
Fridley 11,697 3 1:3,893
Ratio Facilities per Community Size
City Community Size (acres) Number of Facilities Ratio facilities per  Community Size (acres)
Coon Rapids 14,917 9 1:1,657
Brooklyn Park 16,977 7 1:2,425
Andover 22,290 1 1:22,290
Champlin 5,603 1 1:5,603
Blaine 21,777 7 1:3,111
Anoka 4,554 1 1:4,554
Fridley 6,917 3 1:2,305

Based on this analysis, Coon Rapids has a slightly higher proportion of self-storage facilites, especially when compared to peer communities like Blaine and Brooklyn Park.  Although staff does continue to receive periodic inquiries, it is possible that the Coon Rapids market may be reaching a saturation point.  There are no pending proposals or known projects at the present time.
Possible Locations for Future Self Storage Facilities

Below is a list of possible locations for future self-storage facilities based on current zoning. The sites are currently undeveloped.
  • Shamrock parcel, behind the post office along Highway 10, zoned (GC)
  • Shamrock parcel, adjacent to Wells Fargo on Robinson Drive, zoned (GC)
  • Vale street parcel, Vale Street/Coon Rapids Boulevard, zoned (I and RRO)
  • Dynamics Holdings parcel, next to 9953 Foley Boulevard (by park and ride), zoned (I)
  • John Roberts parcel, next to their East River Road facility, zoned (I)
  • Metro Molded parcel, north east corner of Hanson/Highway 10 interchange, zoned (I)
  • Rosar parcel, next to 8501 Evergreen Blvd. (just north of 85th Ave.), zoned (I)
Analysis and Discussion

In looking at how these uses are regulated under the current zoning code, there are a few areas for potential code review:

1) Limit the type of self-storage that is allowed. For example, the City could restrict new self-storage facilities to indoor type facilities only, especially in the General Commercial district.  Two such facilties were approved in the last year and there was considerable discussion around the design and aesthetic elements of the buildings. In large part, these concerns could be addressed because the projects involved a single building with interior access as opposed to separate buildings with individual (outdoor) storage unit access. It might also offer opportunities for new buildings to need less fencing and screening, thus making the use more compatible with surrounding uses.  Anoka and Andover limit self-storage facilties to indoor-type only. 

2) Prohibit new facilities in the River Rapids Overlay District. This would impact the commericial areas along Coon Rapids Boulevard and essentially cap the number of facilties, which includes two sites at the present time.  It would render existing facilities as non-conforming, meaning they could not expand.  However, they could re-build in the event of a fire or some other property damage.  An alternative option might to limit facilities in the RROD to indoor-types only.  This would mean that one of the existing facilities would still be considered non-conforming, while the other would not. 

3) There was a lot of discussion about aesthetic issues, particularly with regard to the transparency of building interiors and whether the presence of overhead doors, light intensity and color schemes should be more closely regulated.  Color schemes would be hard to regulate since many businesses use that for branding purposes.  However, one option might to be limit the percent of these design elements on a building facade.  Transparent glazing with views to interior display doors were features on both of the projects that were approved.  It would require additional analysis to calculate the precise amount glazing used for this purpose.  The attached elevations provide some data, however the calcuations also include overhead doors, service doors and store entrances.  If these projects were to be used as acceptable prototypes, perhaps some kind of cap (% of building facade, % of total building exterior) might be appropriate to use as a standard.

Interior lighting was another issue raised during the site plan review.  Both projects were limited to 4,100 Kelvin lumen output, which is considered a mid-range for the intensity and color of a light source.  Using a standard like this would offer a way to measure light intensity and help with compliance.  Most of the cities only have general standards to limit light levels (typically in foot candles) at property lines.  Coon Rapids does as well.  The brightness or intensity of a light source is not typically regulated. Staff has provided some additional background informaton on light intensity.

General Comments

Under the City's current zoning regulations, self-storage facilties are treated as conditional uses, meaning that the City can impose additional (reasonable) conditions that are tailored to the specific circumstances of an individual proposal.  Thus, there is some flexibility under the code to address issues that arise during the land use review process.  Providing additional zoning restrictions and/or code standards could help in the review process too. 
No specific action is required. Staff would like Council feedback and direction on this matter.

Industry Trends
Zoning Map
Building Elevations
Light Intensity

AgendaQuick©2005 - 2019 Destiny Software Inc., All Rights Reserved