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Officials in Battle Ground and Ridgefield, WA, Debate Self-Storage

City officials in Battle Ground and Ridgefield, Wash., are discussing how they should designate self-storage within their respective zoning frameworks to deal with an influx of development applications. The small towns are about 17 miles north of Vancouver, Wash., on either side of Interstate 5. Both are experiencing population growth, but neither municipality has a strict definition for the business use, according to the source.

City officials in Battle Ground and Ridgefield, Wash., are discussing how they should designate self-storage within their respective zoning frameworks to deal with an influx of development applications. The small towns are about 17 miles north of Vancouver, Wash., on either side of Interstate 5. Both are experiencing population growth, but neither municipality has a strict definition for the business use, according to the source.

Battle Ground officials want to determine how self-storage should be classified when addressing annual city-code updates next year. As housing has become more expensive in Vancouver, the town’s population has grown, which is creating demand for storage, according to Erin Erdman, community-development director for Battle Ground. “Increased density on smaller lots makes a bigger need for these types of facilities,” she told the source.

During the last census, Battle Ground had a population of about 17,000. Ridgefield is smaller, with a population of around 5,000, but has two self-storage facilities under construction and two others in the pre-application phase, the source reported. The facility being developed at the corner of S. 11th Street and S. Timm Road will comprise 76,000 square feet on 3.87 acres. The project at the corner of S. Union Ridge Parkway and S. 10th Street will comprise 40,852 square feet on 3.3 acres.

As Ridgefield began to receive more development applications, the city council passed a six-month moratorium on new storage projects in June to better assess the needs of the community, according to the source.

“One of the comments that council received in support of these types of facilities is with all these people moving into Ridgefield, they need places to store their stuff that can’t fit in a garage,” Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart told the source. “The councilors have questions about when the need will be met. How many of them do we actually need for Ridgefield?”

At issue for both municipalities is where to allow self-storage development that’s in line with the use’s contributions to job growth and city taxes. “One of the concerns expressed by our city council was the extremely low number of jobs per acre provided by those facilities,” Stuart said. “It’s high-value employment land being used for low jobs per facility.”

“[The facilities are] not providing a lot of jobs,” noted Erdman. “It’s not providing a lot of revenue. It’s property-tax value only. We’re not making sales-tax revenue out of the facility.”

Ridgefield has 887.8 acres of vacant land that’s compatible with its employment zoning code. Self-storage is eligible for employment zones since it isn’t a defined use, according to the source. Though the zone type has the most available land and lowest job-to-acre ratio in the city, officials want nine jobs per acre for the designation. By comparison, commercial zones (448.6 acres of vacant property) and mixed-use zones (14.4 acres vacant) are supposed to net 20 jobs per acre.

The Ridgefield ban on new self-storage projects is scheduled to end in December.

Sources:

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