The city Planning Commission gave the go-ahead for a zoning change that would allow storage units near the city airport but said they would stick to tough architectural standards when the plan comes through again.
The applicants, the Patricia Ann Scott Family Limited Partnership, asked the Planning Commission to change the zoning to industrial on a 5.98-acre site across from the Steamboat Springs Airport on Elk River Road.
To allow for self-storage units with security fencing, climate control for selected interior units and an on-site managers apartment, applicants asked to change the zoning from residential estate to industrial.
Representing the applicant, Bob Furman of Civil Design Consultants said the parcel is surrounded by many industrial uses and the proposal would fit in with those uses. He said the site was close to a major transportation source and storage units would support the airport's industrial users.
The applicants already have submitted to the city a development plan for 336 single-self-storage units in nine separate buildings.
Although the city agreed to the zoning, Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer said the storage units are proposed in a highly visible area and city architecture standards are going to be strict.
"We have been extremely tough on all of the industrial developers over the years. We have requirements to meet. And I have yet to see a mini-warehouse, mini-storage (development) that will meet that criteria," Meyer said.
Planning Commissioner Randall Hannaway said it might not mean a radical redesign of the buildings and that brims and landscaping could be put in to conceal the storage units.
Furman said they had looked at alternative development schemes for the site and the need to go back and evaluate their conceptual plan.
The Routt County Planning Department also had some concerns about the proposed storage units, which would sit on the border of the city limits.
In a referral letter to the city, County Planning Director Caryn Fox wrote that she believed the site should not be rezoned industrial.
The parcel is a gateway into the city from the Elk River Valley, she said.
The Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan indicates the parcel should be zoned for agriculture and forestry and Fox suggested building live-work units instead.
"I am concerned that mini-storage type uses are taking valuable lands away from other, more pressing needs, such as reasonable housing and mixed uses. I would prefer to see mini-storage in the less visible and less accessible areas of the existing Industrial Zones within the city limits," her letter read.