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Board of Appeals Rules Proposed Self-Storage Development in Urbandale, Iowa, Must Have Sprinkler System


A Board of Appeals last week denied a request by a self-storage developer in Urbandale, Iowa, to amend the fire code. The developers asked for the amendment so they wouldn’t be required to install an automatic sprinkler system at the proposed site.

The board unanimously turned down the request by Brad Vander Linden and business partner Eric Vander Linden.

The city code was changed in 2007, requiring sprinkler systems for self-storage buildings from 6,000 square feet or greater. Any facilities built before 2007 are not required to add a sprinkler system.

In August, Eric Vander Linden asked the Urbandale City Council to consider changing that requirement to 12,000 square feet, which is the requirement in nearby Ankeny, Des Moines, Waukee and Windsor Heights.

The Vander Lindens are concerned about the high price tag—about $200,000—for installing the sprinkler system. The proposed site plan includes 650 or more units. Under the current fire code, each unit would be required to have a sprinkler head.

Brad Vander Linden suggested the development be constructed as two compartmentalized structures, each with fire walls, interior fire doors and centrally monitored fire alarms in lieu of sprinklers.

Urbandale Fire Chief Jerry Holt told the board the building should be treated as one because a metal building could still lose its integrity and collapse, even with a firewall.

Board member Rod Stevens urged the self-storage developers to work with city planners to find a compromise. Brad Vander Linden said his team would work toward a solution.


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