Officials in Smithtown, N.Y., are considering whether to restrict future self-storage development to its industrial districts. The proposed change comes amid a comprehensive rewriting of zoning code and the town’s master plan. Self-storage is currently allowed in central business districts and industrial zones, but officials would prefer to reserve future development near downtown to retail and office uses, planner Peter Hans said during a Feb. 4 public hearing.
If passed, the move would also increase the allowable height of self-storage buildings from 24 feet, or two stories, to 35 feet in most industrial districts and 40 feet in heavy industrial areas. Storage developers have routinely built facilities taller than 24 feet by asking for a height variance to match the regulation assigned to the specific zone in which they are building, according to a source.
The change in height allowance is opposed by civic group We Are Nesconset. Some residents are even calling for a moratorium on any zoning changes until the master plan is updated. “They are using probably over $1 million of our tax money for the master plan,” resident Patty Stoddard told a source. “We should have a moratorium. No more zone changes.”
Town planners contend the change in zoning would still apply firm regulations to self-storage development, including height limitations. “You will still have a lot of zoning restrictions in place, such as height, gross floor area, parking spaces [and] buffers, so I feel everyone is protected,” Hans said.
The measure is also opposed by the New York Self Storage Association (NYSSA), which maintains the change would hurt areas that desire self-storage near residences and small businesses. “We encourage the town board to consider more creative win-win solutions,” including mixed-use storage facilities that would share space with other business uses, Jon Dario, chair of NYSSA, said in a written statement to officials.
Officials are expected to vote on the zoning change in March. Smithtown is scheduled to complete the rewriting of its master plan next year, a source reported.