By Ed Clement
"Your Self Storage Planning - Site Selection - Design-Build" by Marc Goodin
1. A colored rendering is a must. While many items like the building design or looks are not necessary to be a part of the wetlands commission purview, a pretty picture goes a long way.
2. Pictorial information about your facility. Pictures of cameras, TV monitors, fencing, access gate, lighting, signage, and office mounted on a single board tells a great story about your security.
3. Know your facility's policy on the prohibition of the storage of hazardous materials. Provide a copy of your lease provision prohibiting hazardous materials. Provide a copy of the sign to be posted in your office prohibiting the storage of hazardous materials. Give an explanation that includes how you know your customers, i.e., a copy of every renter’s driver's license, home and work phone numbers, email address, a second contact person, etc. An explanation, in detail, of how the staff is required to walk and inspect the site several times a day can help give the commission confidence there will not be a problem at the facility.
4. If you are going to rent units for car storage (which is worth fighting for!) be prepared to explain the steps you will take to ensure gasoline will not leak and cause a problem. If you can’t figure this one out, email me and I will point you in the right direction. (Hint: look up the requirements for cars in public buildings like a car show in your local civic center and include the two or three safety items in your lease.) Also, you should only rent cars that are registered and insured.
5. While you (and your engineer) always had to be prepared to explain the storm drainage design and storm drainage detention design, now it is common to provide detailed (and expensive) storm water quality best management practices. Make sure you personally understand these site features and the required maintenance, so the commission has confidence that they not only will be built, but you, as the owner, personally understand the importance of maintaining them.
6. Make sure that you and your engineer have walked the wetlands, even though your soil scientist is coming to the meeting. Your knowledge of the property could help turn the deciding vote your way.
7. Early on in the design process, you should have confirmed there are no endangered species on the site. Often the Department of Environmental Protection can provide areas of known or reported endangered species. Be prepared to either confirm there are no endangered or threatened species or to discuss the impact to endangered or threatened species if they exist.
Ten items you don’t want to forget to bring to your Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, which can make a difference.
1. All the items you brought to the wetlands meeting.
2. Bring all the professionals (you can afford); design engineer, landscape designer, traffic engineer, architect, and attorney if customary in your town. A single presenter can do the majority, if not the entire presentation.
3. Office hours and gate hours.
4. Samples of the building materials, including colors.
5. Light photo metrics to show that light does not impact neighbors. A manufacturer's detail sheet for full cutoff lights is helpful. LED lights cost more to install but will pay for themselves in a short time and save you money for many years. Let them know you are a green builder and will be using energy-efficient LED lighting.
6. A copy of a standard lease. You can get one from your state's self-storage association.
7. Knowledge of your marketing study to confirm the need for self-storage in the area. Again, this should not be a part of the commission decision process, but I have had the questions asked several times. Let them know it’s a benefit to the area as most of your customers will be the people located within 5 miles or less from your property.
8. The owner should attend all meetings and be prepared to let the commission know they are an expert on self-storage and are excited about being a part of the community. Be prepared to make concessions the night of the meeting, if necessary, to get approval.
9. Be prepared to rebuff the many myths about self-storage such as noise, drugs, low value, no taxes, people living in units, used mostly by people from out of town, ugly, self-storage does not mix with residential uses, high traffic, etc.
10. Be prepared to present a traffic study. Traffic is often a concern if there is any opposition. If the town did not require one as part of your application, I would at least have a simple one-page summary for the estimated daily and peak hour traffic generation. This can be very beneficial to show that self-storage is one of the lowest traffic generators and has less traffic than typical retail, office, businesses, and even a residential subdivision.
Self-storage is a local business. The majority of your renters will be people from the town. Early in the design phase, you will have to determine the percentage of climate control units for your site. Often, the outside of the climate control building will have non-climate control units with doors directly to the driveway.
For a free copy of Marc's book, "Your Self Storage Planning - Site Selection - Design-Build"
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Clement is a franchise director at Storage Authority. One of his passions and responsibilities is helping franchisees find land by sharing how to find land both online and offline. Ed has a strong background in real estate, investment banking, and management consulting. He is available at Ed@StorageAuthority.com or 727 946 0745 to answer your questions and share the Storage Authority Franchise opportunity.