Last week, Collier County Planning Commission discussed a proposed three-story, 174,000-square-foot CubeSmart self-storage facility at the intersection of 13th Avenue Southwest and Collier Boulevard, near Golden Gate City. The board was unable to bring a recommendation of approval or denial to the Board of County Commissioners for the 5.5-acre property.
Although the land is zoned for estates, there are two Florida Power & Light substations adjacent to the property, which deem the land unusable for any residential use. There is one model home on the property that has been vacant for more than 15 years.
The applicant, who is also the contract purchaser for the land dependent on approval of the project, seeks for the property to be rezoned to C-5, which is intended to provide for specified highway-related commercial uses, and allow for the storage facility.
“[The home] will continue to sit vacant because no one wants to live right next to these two power plants,” land-use attorney Noel Davies said. “That’s why we’re seeking to rezone the property, to allow for the self-storage use, which you know is one of the lowest impact commercial uses. Very low trips, very low intensity and a much more appropriate use for the site.”
In response to two neighborhood information meetings held by the applicant, Davies said that several accommodations have been made to the original proposal, including changing the entrance from 13th Avenue Southwest to Collier Boulevard, providing relief to residents and a bus stop at the intersection. However, this interferes with the county’s policy of limiting entrances off Collier Boulevard.
The county created an access management resolution in 2013 stating Collier Boulevard is a limited road and accesses should be off local streets. County Commissioners would have to agree to lift the restrictions, but staff instead recommended the entry to the self-storage facility remain on 13th Avenue Southwest.
The facility is planned to be completely internal with no outside-facing doors. The three-story building is slated for the back half of the project and one-story buildings closer to the street. A masonry wall with landscaping will surround the property to decrease visibility of the building.
Planning Commission Vice Chair Joe Schmitt expressed concern about management of the facility ensuring storage units aren’t used for residential purposes. Davies said access will be allowed until 10 p.m. daily, keycards will be required to enter and there will be on-site security from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Although Collier County Public Schools can’t demand the property owners to make improvements to its bus stop unless it creates hazardous walking conditions, the applicant agreed to add a gazebo to the corner of the intersection with a gravel parking area off 13th Avenue Southwest for parents picking up and dropping off their children.
Planning Commissioners Paul Shea and Chuck Schumacher are against creating a growth management plan amendment for the project and said self storage doesn’t bring enough benefit to the community for it to be worth the change.
“Our job here is to maintain that growth management plan, that’s my philosophy, unless there’s some overpowering reason, and that reason is there’s a major benefit to the county that might overcome or outweigh the impact on the local community. Personally, I don’t see that here,” Shea said. “I don’t see why we would vote for this. The benefit goes totally to the practitioner who knew what he was getting into when he thought about this land.”
Schmitt voted in favor of the project, stating if it doesn’t become self storage, it could become a more intense use like a bank, gas station or church.
“If this is not CubeSmart or a storage facility, it is going to be some other type of commercial use because I don’t see anybody spending well over a million dollars for a home at this time surrounded by two power stations,” he said.
The vote was 3-3, with Schumacher, Randall Sparrazza and Shea voting against recommendation of the self-storage facility. Chair Edwin Fryer, Schmitt and Commissioner Robert Klucik voted in favor. The ultimate decision will be made by the Board of County commissioners at a later date.