Council shelves controversial storage facility

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 16, 2017


TROY — In a 5-2 vote, the Troy City Council refused a request to rezone residential property to build a  three-story E-Z Mini Storage on 1.8 acres south of Long Lake Road, west of Livernois Road, May 8.

After listening to over 20 residents speak, all opposing the rezoning, the council voted to deny the request. Mayor Dane Slater and Councilman Dave Henderson supported the request. 

The vote required a supermajority — five votes —  for approval because a valid protest petition was submitted May 5. 

Troy City Clerk Aileen Dickson explained that the owner/agent for a retail center — which contains Trevarrow Ace Hardware and a half-dozen other commercial businesses — located next to the parcel up for rezoning complied with the requirement that 20 percent of property owners within 100 feet of the proposed rezoning oppose it, making the petition valid. 

On March 20, the council postponed the rezoning request because two council members were absent. 

After a public hearing Feb. 14, the Planning Commission voted 7-1 to recommend approval of the conditional rezoning to a neighborhood node zoning, which is how the site, surrounded by single-family residential lots, is envisioned in the city’s master plan. 

Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson opposed the recommendation. He noted that all other commercial buildings in that area are two stories high — it would be the only three-story building — and he said it was not compatible with its surroundings.

The proposed 109,800- square-foot facility would have contained 700 storage units, 600 square feet of office space and 2,700 square feet of retail space — for which the developers said they had no tenant yet. 

“This location is not suitable,” said resident Joseph Donahue Jr. 

“Self-storage facilities invite criminal activities,” said resident Diane Ker. 

Resident Mark Dorazio cited the number of storage facilities already in the area.

“It’s an enormous building on an extremely small piece of property,” said resident Louise Blum. 

Resident Don Blum said the parcel would be better suited for “a few ranch condos for millennials and baby boomers” due to the demand for housing in Troy. He added that a three-story building would “overpower everything in the area. It’s out of proportion. It doesn’t fit.” 

Troy Planning Director R. Brent Savidant told the council that the Planning Commission felt the developers “did a very good job breaking up the massing of the building” with architectural elements, a wall separating it from adjacent homes and a private park on the parcel for public use. 

“Looking at this, it looks out of place,” said Councilman Ethan Baker. “Nobody spoke in support of the project. No one has ever said, ‘We need more storage facilities.’ I don’t think the project caters to the neighborhood needs.” 

“It’s a rural-esque area,” said Councilman Ed Pennington. “I think housing would be a better fit.” 

Steve Nolan, a representative for the developer, told the Planning Commission Feb. 14 that the developer would not allow businesses to operate in the storage facilities. He said the 700 storage units would generate a total of four to five cars per hour, “commonly known as a low-traffic use,” he said. 

Nolan said the $5 million building would be “a state-of-the-art security facility.”  

Nolan told the council May 8 that the facility would operate 7 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and that no one would be able to enter the facility after 9 p.m. 

“I love the investment,” said resident Eric Dietz. “I think it’s the wrong location.” 

“It’s legal in every shape and form,” Henderson said. He said the height of the building “may be an issue,” but there was not that big of a difference between the height of the proposed building and that of the nearby condominiums. “There’s not a lot of traffic (generated). I’m in favor of the development,” he said. 

“This is hard,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Hodorek. “We’re not a rubber-stamping body. It’s a balance between the residents and the developer. It’s the wrong spot.” 

Slater said he’s always supported the master plan and the recommendations of city staff. He said he looked to the Planning Commission as “a vetting process for me. I’m not an expert. In these areas, I rely on staff.” 

He added that he believes it is the council’s obligation to go to the Planning Commission and “tell them what we want,” referring to the Planning Commission and city staff recommendations to approve the storage facility and the proposed apartment building adjacent to McClure Drive, both requests that the council denied.