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Imbus Enterprises Self-Storage Proposal Shot Down in Florence, KY

Imbus Enterprises LP lost its bid to build a self-storage facility on an abandoned lot after Florence, Ky., City Council members voted against the project last week. The March 8 vote overruled a recommendation from the Boone County Planning Commission to allow the development.

March 14, 2016

6 Min Read
Imbus Enterprises Self-Storage Proposal Shot Down in Florence, KY

Update 3/14/16 – Imbus lost its bid to build a self-storage facility on an abandoned lot after Florence City Council members voted against the project last week. The March 8 vote overruled a recommendation from the Boone County Planning Commission to allow the development.

The council determined the concept-development plan for the facility doesn’t fit within the Boone County Comprehensive Plan or the Central Florence Strategic Plan, according to the source. 3/7/16 – Imbus hit a snag last week after city council members questioned whether the storage development is the right use for the selected site. The Florence City Council tabled its vote on March 1 to allow the city’s attorney to present more facts about the project.

The postponement comes after the city’s planning and zoning committee couldn’t come to a consensus on the development. Rather, they offered the council a list of recommendations for creating a more pleasing facility exterior, according to sources. The committee suggested elevation changes, the addition of natural color tones, and upgrades to the fencing, lighting and siding. The current plans include concrete buildings with a brick façade that would face U.S. Route 42.

Duncan reminded the council that the Boone County Planning Commission recommended the city approve the project. He said too many people think “Yugo” when they hear self-storage, but Imbus’ vision is that of a “Cadillac.”

“We’d like to take this eyesore and turn it into something you would be proud of,” Duncan said. “The plan was proposed as a Cadillac. With the conditions that the planning commission put on this project that we agreed to, and the conditions that were discussed at your committee … you are getting up into Mercedes and Bentley land.”

Duncan also noted that the site’s topography—long, narrow and on a downhill slope—will make it difficult to develop for other uses. “You are going to have to wait for the proper project that will make good use of this land,” he said. “It was mentioned that you have offices and apartments [zoned for the site], and that is true. If you did that, you would have [significant] traffic, especially peak-hour traffic.”

Council member David Osborne supported the project and called the land an eyesore. “It is the center of Florence, and when tourists come up and down U.S. 42, they don’t want to look at what is there now,” he said. “That land, which has laid vacant in two or three years, has not had any offers in that time. They have an offer to sell the land and develop this project. I’m for it.”

Others council members, however, said they weren’t convinced self-storage is the best use for the site. Councilman Gary Winn shared concerns similar to those expressed by residents during the public hearing, including those related to the location, the impact on property values and hours of operation. “It’s a good project, I just—based on the Comprehensive Plan and the Central Florence Strategic Plan, which is office and residential multi-family—didn’t feel like this project in this part of Florence was right,” Winn said.

Councilman Mel Carroll also recommended against the project. “I feel it’s the wrong location and stretches the meaning of the zoning codes we have for that location,” he said.

Another council member, Duane Froelicher, suggested something that complemented the city center would be a better fit.

The council had the option to approve the planning commission’s recommendation, with or without the conditions; reverse the recommendation for approval and deny the request; or refuse to act, a source reported. With a 4-2 vote, members chose to add an item to the agenda to overrule the planning commission’s recommendation. The council will revisit the storage proposal at its March 8 meeting.

10/13/2015 Imbus Enterprises LP has proposed a $6 million self-storage development for the site of a former nursery in Florence, Ky., but the project has met resistance from local residents. Imbus owners Chris and John Imbus hope to build a 627-unit storage facility on the 5.2-acre property at 7501 U.S. 42 that would require a zoning change, according to the source.

The site was occupied by Florence Nursery for 49 years before it closed in 2013. It’s currently zoned for commercial, public or institutional use, which includes offices, restaurants, retail, schools and other uses, but not self-storage. Residents who live behind the property, on Lawrence Drive, voiced concerns about the project during an Oct. 7 public hearing with the Boone County Planning Commission. Some complained the self-storage facility would look like a prison, while others worried tenants would be allowed to live or run businesses in their units, the source reported.

Chris Imbus denied tenants would be allowed to run businesses from their units and said the facility’s security system will record when tenants enter and exit the property. “Other commercial-run storage facilities don’t have the kind of security we do,” he told the commission. “I rent you a space, not the lights or the bathroom or none of that.”

The facility’s design would include a “Colonial brick façade” facing the highway, with storage confined to six buildings. “You’ve never seen self-storage like they do it,” said Michael Duncan, an attorney representing the developer. Duncan also told planners that other self-storage facilities operated by Imbus have a record of low impact on city services and few fire or police calls.

Resident Tammy Price argued the facility was unnecessary because there are two other self-storage businesses within five miles of the site.

The trees and creek that run behind the property, serving as a buffer, would remain intact, and Imbus said he is open to hours of operation that would reduce impact on the community. No outside storage, including vehicles, will be permitted, according to the source.

Seven residents spoke against the project, with no residents backing the development. The Imbus application included four letters of recommendation from officials in other municipalities who have dealt previously with the company. “I have worked in several jurisdictions throughout Ohio and can state without qualification that this facility is by far the most attractive self-storage facility I am aware of,” wrote Brian Elliff, a planning and zoning administrator for Miami Township, Ohio. “The project is located in a visible part of the township and has been well-maintained with no violation or maintenance problems.”

Imbus Enterprises operates four self-storage facilities—Fairfield Storage, Glenway Storage, Milford Storage and Milford Self Storage—in Ohio.


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