Dundas city leaders have a tough choice in front of them.
They’re being asked to make a zoning change to two properties in the city to allow for a 38-year-old business, Self Storage Dundas, to expand. The issue is that the city recently modified its zoning rules to disallow storage facilities from its highway commercial zoning district, which is where Self Storage wants to expand.
So the question becomes: should the city make an allowance to help sustain and grow a long-time business or should it adhere to its rules, potentially avoiding similar requests in the future?
The Dundas Planning Commission didn’t have an exact answer. The commission, at its Thursday meeting, sent the issue to the Dundas City Council without making a recommendation on the zoning change.
“The fact we have someone that wants to develop and someone with land they want to sell, that’s two good things,” said commission member Grant Modory, who is also a councilor. “I think they have a plan to bring overall good, but we have to decide if we’re comfortable with changing our vision for those lots.”
In order to expand its 58,000-square-foot facility by about 15,000 feet, Self Storage Dundas owners hope to acquire land nearby the business’s current location. The facility is located at the corner of Hwy. 3 and County Road 1, considered prime real estate in the city. It’s part of the highway commercial district, but because it existed when city leaders changed the zoning, the facility is allowed to stay.
Owners are eyeing land to the southeast, not directly off Hwy. 3 but still in the highway commercial district.
“We don’t need to be on the highway for our expansion,” said Self Storage co-owner Norm Oberto in an interview Monday. “We just need to be close in proximity to our current facility.”
The Self Storage ownership group, which consists of seven individuals, hopes the city will be flexible. There is open land just to the south of the current facility, but the owners aren’t going for that, as that land directly borders Hwy. 3. They hope city leaders will see the other location, farther off the highway, as a win-win.
Under the amended Dundas code, storage facilities are allowed in the light industrial zoning district. The parcel Self Storage wants to buy is near the edge of the highway commercial district, almost bordering the light industrial district. Self Storage owners argue that if the city changes the zoning for that parcel and just one other to the north, it would be a natural extension of the light industrial zoning district.
Roger Ellingson, owner of the parcel that Self Storage wants to buy, is also supportive of the change. He said he’s owned the land for many years and would welcome a buyer. He also noted that Self Storage’s expansion might help jump start other development in the area.
But city leaders’ vision for the highway commercial district was restaurants, shopping and other customer-friendly venues. An expansion to a self-storage facility that is already taking up a highway space is not exactly what they had in mind.
“Are our needs fulfilled (if Self Storage takes over the new parcel)?,” commission member Bruce Morlan queried.
Rather than attempting to steer the council one way or another with a recommendation, the Planning Commission chose to leave it in councilors’ hands. The requested zoning change will be on a future council agenda, likely in March.