The Lake Havasu City Council elected to restrict further storage unit development in town - particularly in prominent areas at the northern and southern entrances along State Route 95.
Currently, storage units are listed as an allowable use in general commercial, commercial-southgate, mixed-use general, industrial, and light industrial zoning districts. But councilmembers voted 6-2 to remove storage from the permitted uses table in general commercial, mixed use general, and commercial-southgate districts. Those changes will officially go into effect in 90 days. Typically an ordinance goes into effect 30 days after approval, but the council elected to give property owners more time to adjust to the changes and work with the city to get the necissary permits or permissions in order prior to the ordinance taking effect.
Councilmembers Nancy Campbell and Michele Lin cast the dissenting votes.
General commercial zoning is common along the highway at the northern entrance into town, while the southern entrance includes both general commercial, and commercial-southgate zoning. There are limited numbers of mixed use general zoning in the city, with some located in the Foothills development, some in the Havasu Riviera community, and one lot on London Bridge Road near the state park enterance.
As amended, storage units will only be allowed in industrial, and light industrial districts after 90 days.
Although new storage unit developments will no longer be allowed in certain areas of town, existing storage complexes will be allowed to continue as a legal non-conforming property - commonly refered to as being “grandfathered in.” Some properties that have not built storage units but have already obtained certain types of approvals for such a facility - such as a building permit - would also be allowed to continue with the plans that have already been approved. Planning Division Manager Luke Morris went over four properties within town that are currently going through design review for a storage facility in a district where they would not longer be allowed, and another potential storage facility that will be coming to City Council for approval at a future meeting is seeking a planned development that specifically allows storage on the lot.
New storage developments in general commercial or commercial-southgate districts that have not already been approved by the city will now have to go through either the rezoning process or the planned development process in order to allow for storage.
Then the Planning and Zoning Commission heard that proposal, they recommened storage be removed as a use in general commercial and commercial southgate districts, but recommended storage continue to be allowed in mixed use-general districts.
Councilmembers Michele Lin and David Lane both said they would rather remove storage in mixed use as well.
Mayor Cal Sheehy said he would be comfortable allowing storage in mixed-use general, noting that those properties are commonly found in master planned communities with a homeowners association that would be able to deal with any concerns or issues that come up within their development.
Campbell said she felt this ordinance constitutes government overreach, noting that these lots are personal property and people who have owned these lots where storage units have been allowed for decades should not have that option suddenly taken away. Campbell also said she is concerned about legal issues this zoning decision could bring, and said these restrictions could increase the cost of a storage unit significantly and make them unaffordable for fulltime Havasu residents.
Councilmember Cameron Moses pointed out that property owners still have the option of seeking a rezone or a planned development. So this ordinance isn’t a hard no, but such developments will have to check with the City Council first.