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Providence, RI, Enacts Ban on Self-Storage Facilities

Article-Providence, RI, Enacts Ban on Self-Storage Facilities

Update 7/26/23 – Officials in Providence, Rhode Island, have banned self-storage development in specific zones following a second and final vote last week. The approved Trunk Space LLC project on Branch Avenue won’t be affected by the legislation, according to a source.

The ordinance is in response to the state’s ongoing housing crisis, council members said. “Land is scarce in Providence, and what little there is has been grabbed up by the self-storage industry,” said Majority Whip Miguel Sanchez, who sponsored the ordinance. “My colleagues and I have been saying 'Let’s house people, not things.' The council has committed to moving away from these types of development projects and fully embracing efforts to build affordable housing.”

Providence has 17 facilities comprising more than 6 million square feet of storage space.

6/29/23 – Officials in Providence, Rhode Island, are considering a ban on self-storage development in specific zones. The city plan commission on Tuesday backed a recommendation from three city councilors to preserve vacant land for residential or other commercial projects, according to the source.

The plan commission has suggested removing self-storage as a “by-right” use from heavy commercial (C-3) zones and adding a special-use permit requirement for light industrial, which is the only other place this type of development is allowed. This would allow C-3 areas to be saved for housing developments, the source reported.

Two self-storage projects prompted the discussion, including a single-story facility off of Manton Avenue and a five-story Trunk Space LLC facility at 50 Branch Ave. Sue AnderBois, the ordinance cosponsor and a Ward 3 councilor, said her constituents expressed their concerns to her about Trunk Space. However, no community members spoke against the project at the first or second planning-commission meeting and it received initial approval earlier this month.

Deputy Planning Director Bob Azar reminded the planning commission and city council that housing isn’t permitted in light-industrial zones, so self-storage wouldn’t displace these potential projects.

John Garrahy, an attorney who previously represented a self-storage development before the commission, called the ban “noxious” and noted that it’s a needed service. He also said that some building conversions or vacant land would be better served for this type of development over housing.

AnderBois called the matter “urgent” and an update to the zoning code would be consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

The Providence Journal, Providence Grapples With Possible Self-Storage Complex Ban as Alternative Is Raised
The Providence Journal, 'Let's House People, Not Things': Providence Bans New Self-Storage Facilities. Here's Why