The Grafton, Wis., Zoning Board of Appeals last week unanimously rejected a petition by one local self-storage developer to bar a project proposed by another. Bruno Hanney, owner of Bruno’s Self Storage, is building a facility at 2091 County Road W. RJ Investments is attempting to build a competing facility less than a mile away, at 1927 County Road W. Hanney filed an appeal to revoke the conditional-use permit RJ received in July.
Hanney and his attorney, Rodney Carter, argued that the commission’s notice for a public hearing on the RJ project was flawed because neither Hanney nor the previous owners of his parcel received the notification. “We were just about to start construction, [and] I find out through the paper … the town just approved another storage facility a few hundred yards from me,” Hanney told the board during the hearing.
Town attorney Sara MacCarthy countered that officials properly followed protocols for announcing the public hearing and weren’t responsible for following up on who received the notice. State statute requires public-hearing notices to be mailed to all properties within 500 feet of the parcel for which a hearing is being conducted. There isn’t a requirement for a municipality to guarantee delivery or verify receipt of the notice, according to the source.
Grafton officials sent notices to 14 property owners and had a notarized affidavit of the mailing. One resident testified he received the notice, but the couple who sold Hanney his parcel said they didn’t, the source reported.
Hanney’s property is about 1,400 feet from the RJ building site, according to Google Maps.
During the public-comment portion of the hearing, Hanney also noted he used a feasibility study to select his property and create his business model. At the time he pursued his project approvals, there wasn’t any immediate competition in the area, he told the commission.
“The cited basis of competition is irrelevant to the plan-commission decision,” said Dan Lyons, a member of the planning commission and zoning board of appeals. Grafton doesn’t have any regulations or limitations in place restricting proximity between similar businesses, according to the source.
Hanney indicated he wouldn’t pursue further action. He’s also building a storage facility in West Bend, Wis. Both will be managed by real estate investment trust and third-party management firm Extra Space Storage Inc.
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