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Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: Mini-storage?

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Federal Way will be exploring the idea of allowing mini-storage facilities in neighborhood business zones as part of a review of the zoning code next year, but some city officials feel the facilities won’t fit with the scheme of the comprehensive plan.

Earlier this month, Gil Hulsman, representing the Abbey Road Group, showed the City Council’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee members photographs of mini-storage facilities that look like homes, with big front windows, gabled roofs and front doors.

He described the potential for mixed uses in the facilities, with actual shops in the front and a modest number of storage units behind, where they would be hidden from view.

But many of the committee members expressed concern with allowing the mini-storage facilities into the neighborhood business zone.

Some said the neighborhood business zoning designation was intended to be pedestrian-friendly and includes businesses like coffee shops and dry cleaners.

Councilman Mayor Dean McColgan said he wasn’t convinced any imposition of design guidelines would make a storage facility work in a residential business area.

Still, others argued, the idea is worth exploring.

Apartments and condominiums usually don’t have enough storage space for things infrequently used, like lawn furniture and barbecue grills during the winter and holiday decorations during the summer. Providing convenient storage space for renters close to where they live is a compelling idea, some said.

“This is an interesting perspective,” Councilwoman Mary Gates said. “Mini-storage near residential could have some value. If you have to drive from 21st to Pacific Highway just to get the Christmas decorations, this could be a convenience issue for residents. There is a need for storage if you live in an apartment.”

McColgan disagreed, reiterating his feeling the facilities wouldn’t fit in business residential zones.

“For many years, people have driven the two miles to Pacific Highway and that was just fine,” he said.

Mayor Jeanne Burbidge said she also opposes mini-storage facilities in residential business-zoned areas, but “considering the number of comments, it warrants further discussion.”

Next year, city officials will be reviewing the neighborhood business zone to see if more types of businesses should be allowed. Officials will consider the mini-storage proposal.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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