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Ancillary Services Take Blows

By Amy Campbell Comments
Posted in Blogs

The Zoning Board of Appeals for Springfield, Mass., this week denied the request of a new self-storage owner to offer U-Haul truck rentals as an adjunct to his business. After being being denied a permit for the use by his building inspector, Robert Kushner appealed to the board, only to be told rental trucks are not an accessory for self-storage—even after his lawyer presented a list of storage business in the region that offer trucks to customers. The story was reported in The Republican.

The board's rejection was based on the fact that truck rental is not allowed in industrial zones, according to the board Chairman Lisa Beauvais. Building Commissioner Patrick Moore said it would be unfair to other businesses in the area.

So what does this mean for Massachusetts facilities and others across the States? Is it really just a zoning issue? I'd like to hear from developers and operators who have faced similar challenges with truck rental—please share your woes.

Here's another ancillary service that's been hit in the news lately: portable storage. Earlier in the week, The Washington Times published a story titled "Invastion of the POD People," explaining that Fairfax County may curb the use of portable containers in residential neighborhoods. Local residents have complained the units are unattractive and make parking difficult.

The executive director of a local homeowners association went so far as to claim that portable storage depreciates home values because the containers detract from curb appeal. The representative from another community says parking is the real issue—the units take up valuable vehicle space.

As if that isn't enough, moving and storage companies are also jumping on the bandwagon, crying foul that the portable companies are free of a lot of regulations to which they are subject.

Even a member of our own industry added his voice to the dissension: Bruce Jennings, owner of Fairfax City Self Storage and president of the Virginia association, who disapproves of container use as billboard advertising and the units' general unsightliness. At a recent planning commission hearing, he proposed a 72-hour limit on the length of time containers could reside in a neighborhood. He also suggested there should be a permit for container use. These are both good suggestions, but I doubt self-storage operators would want the portable industry laying down laws for them.

It's a complicated argument. Is portable storage the enemy or another potential revenue source? What say ye, good industry folk?



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