John Auton, owner of commercial construction company Imperial Design Builders, has received zoning approval to build a self-storage facility in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., despite opposition from residents. About a dozen people from the South Lakes master-planned community spoke out against the development, which would be near the neighborhood’s entrance, during a July 5 town-board meeting.
The proposed site is part of a 6.5-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Jones Lake Road and North Carolina 55. The 1.5 acres closest to the intersection is currently zoned for commercial retail. The council voted unanimously to zone the remaining acreage for self-storage use, according to the source. Commissioner Jason Wunsch recused himself from the vote because he has family living in South Lakes.
Residents had hoped the entire parcel would be reserved for “family-friendly” retail. An online petition against the rezoning garnered 533 signatures prior to the vote. However, it wasn’t submitted to the town as an official protest petition because it didn’t provide signers’ addresses to prove they lived in the neighborhood, the source reported. Some names also appeared as many as four times.
Prior to the vote, board members discussed the project, noting the developer promised to blend it into the neighborhood through a tasteful façade, anti-light-pollution measures and 30-foot evergreen buffers, said Adam Mitchell, town manager.
“As I have learned more, I believe what they have proposed is reasonable,” said Charlie Adcock, commissioner. “My philosophy ultimately is to let the market dictate what needs to be a built. I don’t see that as the role of the board to determine what’s needed, whether it be mini-storage or anything else.”
The developer’s concessions didn’t appease the residents, who said they didn’t want a self-storage facility in their neighborhood regardless of its aesthetics or barriers. “I didn’t want something we had to hide in a mixed-use community,” said resident Daniel Klausner. “I wanted something we could go to with our kids after a day at work and hang out at with our friends—not something pretending to be a retail building or hidden by landscaping.”
Homeowner Katherine Van Allen agreed. “We spend a lot of money in this town trying to make it beautiful, and a mini-storage is not going to make it more beautiful,” she said. “I can’t fathom why they want to put a business in the neighborhood that’s not wanted. That might sound a little shallow, but aesthetics matter.”
Resident Cassandra Cranston questioned whether there was even need for another storage facility in city. She said four already exist and none are at capacity, according to phone calls she made to each.
Mitchell countered that’s not the case. “It was mentioned that there are X number of mini-storages that aren’t full, but that’s not we’ve found in our research,” he said. “We’re finding that the storage units in our town are almost always full.”
One homeowner, whose house borders the development site, spoke in favor of the project. John Wilbon told board members he was satisfied with changes made to the proposal since it was first shown to residents.
The rezoning application was submitted under Timing Is Everything LLC, which is also owned by Auton. The land is owned by Southlake Investors LLC, a privately held company based in Greensboro, N.C.
Billed as Fuquay-Varina’s “first master-planned community,” South Lakes launched in 2005 by Preston Development Co. The recession stalled its progress, resulting in 338 homes built of the planned 700 when complete. The neighborhood also includes a 30-acre lake as well as 120 acres of greenways, open space and wetlands.
Founded in 2002 and based in Fuquay-Varina, Imperial Design Builders offers building, design and pre-construction services. It completed more than 75 projects from 5,000 to 45,000 square feet last year.
- The News & Observer: Fuquay-Varina Approves Storage Facility Despite Opposition