The Lake Havasu City Council balked at a proposal that would have rezoned several of the northernmost lots within city limits, citing their concern that the prominent pieces of highway-front property could become storage units.
Last week the council held a public hearing to consider a request to rezone six undeveloped lots on the lakeside of State Route 95, from the junction with London Bridge Road south to The Shops at Lake Havasu known as the Havasu Auto Complex. The property is currently zoned as a Commercial 2 – Planned Development, but the owners requested a couple of changes to that zoning that would have allowed for more potential uses of the property.
The request would have barred storage units on four lots that directly front the highway in the northeast corner of the complex. But a pair of larger lots in the middle of the complex requested that the planned development be removed entirely – which would allow storage units to go in there.
Several councilmembers indicated that they could be amenable to allowing more storage units in the complex, but they said that they do not want to see storage units along the highway in that location.
“I know they are in demand in our community, but it is the wrong place,” said Mayor Cal Sheehy. “If it could be buffered somehow I could support something along those lines. But it makes it very difficult that you come over the horizon and see a beautiful lake with storage units in the complete horizon.”
Ultimately none of the councilmembers made any motion regarding the rezone request, so the items failed without a formal vote.
Mychal Gordon with Desert Land Group, which represented the property owner during the rezoning process, told the council that he understands the concerns brought up, and said he will work with the owners to revise the request to make it more amenable to the council. He said the owners are hoping to sell the property, so they don’t currently have any specific uses in mind for the lots.
“It is a big piece to deal with, so it does warrant the ability to break out into different pieces,” Gordon said. “Whether that is done as separate parcels buffering the highway, or in combination with architectural or landscape buffer elements, there are a number of things I can think of off the top of my head that we can try and do.”
City Planner Luke Morris explained to the council that the planned development for Havasu Auto Mall was originally approved by City Council in 2007 with a master plan for multiple car dealerships in that area, along with a couple restaurants or retail on a couple of the smaller lots. The two properties to the south of the complex – closest to The Shops at Lake Havasu – filled up with the Anderson Toyota dealership, a Chevron gas station and McDonalds. But the rest of the complex remained vacant for about a decade.
“The overall car dealership auto mall complex is proving in the market to be something we are not going to see in Lake Havasu City – whether we like it or not,” Gordon said.
In 2017 the council approved a request to rezone three lots on the northwest portion of the property – the part that does not front the highway – and since then all of those lots have built, or are currently building, storage units on them. Sheehy, Vice Mayor Jeni Coke, and Councilmember David Lane were all on the council at that time.
“There was a lot of discussion at that time about it being a frontage to State Route 95 and the buffer, because we really didn’t want the first thing people see when they are driving into town to be storage units,” Lane said, recalling the discussions in 2017.
Sheehy said he believes that council agreed to the rezone in 2017 because they were told that there would be a buffer with the highway and that no more storage units would be put in, in that area.
Coke and Lane both said they appreciated the revised planned development eliminating storage units as a potential use for the smaller corner lots, but noted that the larger lots are also easily seen from the highway. Sheehy suggested potentially splitting those larger lots up so the land closest to the highway could remain storage unit free.
Gordon said he will speak with the owners about their options and go back through the planned development process with the city to work out a revised request for those properties.