Is Boca Raton ready for self-storage? Zoning board delays decision

Self storage facilities
Self storage facilities

The Boca Raton Planning & Zoning Board delayed its decision on proposals to encourage development of self-storage centers.

“They can be quite nice,” board member Janice Rustin said at the board’s meeting Thursday night.

But she and the rest of the board postponed their decision on a self-storage facility developer’s proposed ordinances to amend the city’s code of ordinances and its comprehensive plan for development. The board will reconsider the proposed changes at its Sept. 22 meeting.

The changes would create a regulatory pathway for the developer’s proposed conversion of a one-story industrial building at 1900 Northwest First Court in Boca Raton to a two-story self-storage center.

Several board members said the ordinances proposed by the developer could trigger an undesirable surge in self-storage developments in Boca Raton. The Boca Raton Development Services Department had recommended denial of the developer’s proposals prior to the board’s meeting Thursday.

One proposed ordinance would increase a self-storage development’s maximum “density,” or floor area ratio, in city districts zoned for land uses including commercial, general industrial, light industrial and manufacturing.

Floor area ratio (FAR) equals a building’s total enclosed square feet divided by its lot size, or “footprint,” in square feet.

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The proposed maximum floor area ratio for self-storage centers is 1.0, well above the maximum levels for commercial property (0.78), general industrial buildings (0.50), light industrial facilities (0.60), and manufacturing plants (0.50)

“This, to me, is too broad,” Rustin told the developer’s attorney, perhaps because “you’re trying to do this for a specific project.”

Attorney Charles L. Siemon of law firm GrayRobinson, who represented the developer at the planning and zoning board meeting, said the proposed ordinances would not lead to excessive self-storage development.

“The concept of runaway self-storage is a fallacy,” Siemon told the board.

Siemon said the proposed ordinances would encourage self-storage development primarily in areas of Boca Raton zoned for manufacturing.

Siemon also said his client proposed changes to Boca Raton’s regulation of self-storage development because he was encouraged to do so while trying to advance his own development in a series of city council workshop meetings.

As a result, what began as a “molehill” has become a “mountain,” he said, even though self-storage developments “are permitted in quality areas all over the country.”