Update 12/7/18 – Reliable Mini received unanimous approval from the city council on Nov. 29 to build its self-storage facility in Apple Valley.
Prior to the vote, community-development director Bruce Nordquist presented a side-by-side comparison of the Reliable Mini and Wasatch projects. Reliable Mini was required to provide 97 parking spaces while Wasatch needed 164. In addition, city staff also reviewed the emergency-vehicle access for both projects and found them to be satisfactory.
“Although Wasatch continues to challenge staff on the quality of the development, [the council] appreciated all the other responses,” Nordquist said.
Bergman said he was ready to move forward with a vote. “I also believe the other petitioner that was here. That was kind of unique for us, kind of off from what we’re normally used to,” he said, adding that city staff and the planning commission always examine the quality of projects.
A self-storage development proposed for the northeast corner of Evendale Way and Upper 147th St. was tabled in Apple Valley, Minn., on Nov. 15 after concerns were raised by city council members and another self-storage owner. Reliable Mini Warehouses of Apple Valley is seeking approval to construct six buildings containing 52,100 square feet of storage on the vacant parcel. The council postponed its decision to Nov. 29 so members can gather more information about the project, according to the source.
During the meeting, the council was expected to approve the final plat, development agreement, site plan and building permit for the facility, all of which are typically passed with a single motion without discussion, the source reported. However, it was pulled from the consent agenda for further discussion. Although the meeting wasn’t considered a public hearing, the council permitted comments about the project, which was unanimously approved by the Apple Valley Planning Commission on Sept. 19.
Scott Wyckoff, president and chief development officer for Wasatch Storage Partners, which operates a self-storage facility near the proposed site, said he only recently learned of the proposed development and commented on several aspects of the project. There are disparities between the approval process for the two sites, he said. For example, Wasatch had to provide 165 parking spaces, while Reliable Mini is only being asked for 75 to 80. In addition, the new facility should include cosmetic and architectural elements that are compatible with surrounding buildings, just as Wasatch was required to complete aesthetic improvements. The current design resembles “first-generation” storage facilities or residential buildings, he said.
“We don’t feel like this project has been thoroughly vetted comparable to the way our project was vetted. We obviously don’t like the idea of a competitor moving in next door, but if it does move in, we’d like it to be consistent with the same design standards and the same requirements we had to meet,” said Wyckoff, who requested the council hold off on approving the project until his concerns were addressed.
Alex Sharpe, city planner and economic-development specialist, said the planning commission believes the project is consistent with city code, and members specifically commented on the residential feel of the buildings. “They made comments at that meeting that it was a good transition to the residential next door and kind of a marriage of both worlds between the industrial and the residential,” said Sharpe.
As for the building’s look, the city “does not evaluate sites on the perceived quality of an operation,” he said. “We do have performance standards for some of the materials and worked quite extensively with the applicant to change up some of their operations to add additional quality standards,” Sharpe added.
Nino Pedrelli, who represented property owner Patina Apple Valley LLC, said the project does meet the city’s industrial codes. Several attempts have been made over the last decade to the develop the site, but previous projects were rejected, he said.
Vince Schroeder, a partner for Reliable Mini, told the city council he had reached out to Wasatch “in an attempt to get along.” His facility, which won’t offer climate-controlled storage, will refer customers who desire that feature to Wasatch or nearby Menards Self Storage. “From our point of view, we understand there’s a need for storage in the city. We found a piece of land that has permitted use, and we changed our plans to meet with all the city council’s requirements, and we’re excited to be here,” Schroeder said.
Councilmember Tom Goodwin said he has spoken with residents, who claimed the Reliable Mini facility was “the best the city was going to get.” The community had disapproved of previous proposals for the property, including an apartment complex and bus garage, Goodwin noted.
Councilmembers John Bergman and Ruth Grendahl weren’t ready to vote on the project pending unanswered questions. “I understand being consistent with city code. I also want to know that we have the same standards for everybody,” Grendahl said. “We have a minimum code, I understand that, but people work with staff and do different things. I just want to make sure people have been treated consistently in the process here.”
Because the development had already been approved by the planning commission, councilmember Clint Hooppaw said he was ready to vote. “I think staff has answered these [questions] sufficiently for me. I think this went to the planning commission process—the opportunity was there. I watched the planning commission video. I read the packet. I’m ready to move forward,” he said.
Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland hoped for a unanimous decision and believed the council could get there if some questions were answered. Bergman, Goodwin, Grendahl and Hamann-Roland voted to postpone the vote, while Hooppaw cast the dissenting vote.
Reliable Mini operates three facilities in Chippewa Falls, Elk Mound and Menomonie, Minn.
Based in American Fork, Utah, and founded in 2015, Wasatch specializes in self-storage acquisitions, development and property management. It operates five facilities in Arizona, Colorado, New York and Tennessee under various brand names. It also has a project under construction in Federal Way, Wash., and a pending land-acquisition deal in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
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