Rural mini-storage restrictions proposed

Should people be able to build mini-storage facilities in the rural zones of Island County?

That’s the question Island County commissioners will have to decide before a new ordinance governing mini-storage can be adopted.

Before leaving early this year, former county Planning Director Jeff Tate urged commissioners to tackle the issue of mini-storage development. He said the construction of those facilities spawn far more complaints from residents than any other kind of development.

The main complaint is about the aesthetics of the units, but some residents are also concerned about criminal activity associated with the facilities.

As a result, planning staff and the county planning commission developed a draft ordinance that places further requirements on the construction and siting of the storage facilities.

At a Wednesday staff session, planner Brandon Sweezea told the commissioners that the planning commissioner debated whether or not to ban the construction of mini-storage in the rural zone completely. The planning commission opted not to strike mini-storage as an allowable use in the zone, but created new requirements to minimize the impacts.

Sweezea said planning commissioner members were concerned that banning mini-storage from the rural zone would severely limit the sites where they could be build. There is, after all, a demand for personal storage in the community.

“It would limit mini-storage to Freeland, Coupeville, Oak Harbor and nowhere else,” Planning Director Bob Pederson said.

Under the draft, mini-storage facilities could only be built in the rural zone on property that’s at least 10 acres; 100-foot setbacks from roads and 50-foot setbacks from property lines would be required, along with an on-site caretaker residence. Also, the planning commission recommended security measures, such as video surveillance0 and alarm systems, be mandated.

The county commissioners asked to see the minutes of the planning commission meetings on the issue in order to better understand the reasoning behind the recommendations.

“This is another one of those long-brewing issues we will finally get to take care of, one way or another,” Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said.

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