June 24th, 2024

Two self-storage businesses given OK to expand operations

By Medicine Hat News on May 25, 2024.

A self-storage business on Bridge Street will be allowed to expand eastward after city council approved a rezoning application Monday involving land in the Historic Clay District area plan.--News Photo Collin Gallant


Two self-storage operations in central Medicine Hat will be allowed to expand, despite concerns about proximity to Historic Clay District and that the type of business provides the least bang for the buck in terms of assessment value.

The two separate applications involve two different companies, both operating for a decade or more but are now limited by either space or zoning.

Approved following public hearings on Tuesday was an application by City Centre Storage, which sits behind business blocks on Kingsway Avenue at the foot of the Southeast Hill on four lots addressed on 13th Street SE, which at that location appears as a back lane.

The other, a plan by Storzall Mini Storage to develop an adjoining lot, is on the edge of the Historic Clay District in the Flats.

The parcel is behind Top Hat Bingo Hall, but addressed on Clay Avenue, and sits between a spur rail line and the mainline yard owned by CPKC.

That is making it less attractive for other development, said city planning officer Brad Irwin.

That generally falls in the “Historic Clay District Overlay” however, which encourages tourism-related or mixed-use development, though the overarching municipal development plan calls for intensification.

Though designation connects it to the clay district, there is no historical value to the land that has been vacant for decades, say planners.

“There are a lot of constraints, so from a policy perspective, (investment in existing use) would be a positive,” said Irwin before council members voted 6-2 in favour of the change.

Coun. Robert Dumanowski said he respects the owner’s wish to invest but it’s too close to residential areas to expand sea-can storage, security lighting and more traffic.

“My worry is that preserving these types of districts is hampered by decisions like this,” he told council. “We’re giving permission for carve-outs.”

Coun. Shila Sharps also said the expansion was too close to a home, located kitty corner from what would be the only access point to the facility.

Separately, council voted 8-0 to rezone City Centre’s 13th Street location from mixed use to a business industrial zone. It will allow the owner to add heated buildings for indoor storage lockers and eventually add outdoor containers on land currently used for boats and RVs.

Caleb Orge, a citizen who often speaks at zoning hearings, said allowing a business to expand a lower business on land valuable for other uses doesn’t make financial sense.

“In terms of land value, council is giving up a (many) fold increase if someone would build an apartment building there,” he said.

Investment would also add assessment value, a council priority, said Irwin, but albeit, not as much as other uses.

“Is there better use of the site?” said Irwin. “It’s an existing use, and they are looking to expand their business. We’re supporting that.”

That area is considered a transition zone in long-term city planning goals, where new commercial development could take place and evening housing in the area has been discussed.

Planners said this week the private sector has been slow to act on the opportunity, and the proximity to the slope makes more intense use difficult.

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