Violet Township officials are scrambling to find a bigger venue in which to hold a public hearing for its Board of Zoning Appeals to consider variances for a controversial proposed storage facility in the township.
The township's Administrative Building hosted the first public hearing on the matter Thursday, March 20, however, that space proved too small to accommodate an overflow crowd. No decision was rendered after the board heard more than two hours of public comment.
The Board of Zoning Appeals agreed to reconvene the hearing at a later date, but as of Tuesday, a time and location had not yet been determined.
At issue is a variance application filed by Storage One Self-Storage to construct a facility with 10 buildings on 10.4 acres of vacant land on the southeast corner of Milnor and Refugee roads in the township.
The variance request applies only to the western 7.6 acres of the parcel, which is in the township's Planned Residential Development District.
Storage One seeks a variance to more than double the size limitation of 3 acres currently allowed under township zoning rules.
Storage One also is requesting variances to deviate from required setbacks, allow for auctions on premises, surpass building height limits by six inches and to waive the requirement for loading spaces.
Additionally, Storage One wants to have the 7.6 acres rezoned to C-2 Limited Commercial.
That separate matter is scheduled to go before the Violet Township Board of Trustees at 8 p.m. April 2 in the township's Administrative Building, 12970 Rustic Drive in Pickerington.
The rezoning application does not include the remaining 2.096 acres on the east end of the parcel, which is part of the Spring Creek Development Plan.
The storage facility issue has stirred emotions.
Some residents of the neighboring Spring Creek subdivision, located in the city of Pickerington, have voiced opposition to the proposed facility, however, Storage One officials said they believe there are misconceptions about the project's scope and impact.
Mark Vanderhoff, a Spring Creek resident said he thinks a storage facility would be incompatible with the family-oriented environment there.
He circulated a petition that garnered 58 signatures from residents opposing the project.
"This (proposed) conditional permitted use does not align with the residential character of the area," Vanderhoff said, adding it would bring a "transient" feel to the neighborhood.
Vanderhoff's neighbor, Chuck Lockard, said it will negatively impact home values in Spring Creek.
"(There will be) increased light pollution, with a storage facility they will have lights on all hours of the night, and increased traffic in and out of the neighborhood due to access from only Spring Creek Drive," Lockard said.
Spring Creek resident Spencer Nevin said he worries about safety and people "driving U-Hauls for the first time, barreling through our neighborhood."
"I'm sure the people building this are fine people and run a respectable business," Nevin said, "this just doesn't fit in with our neighborhood."
Storage One Manager Jayme Gates said it is a low-impact, family-owned and operated business. She said traffic would be minimal, generating about 14 vehicles per day in and out of the facility.
Gates acknowledged the only access to and from the facility would be through Spring Creek Drive and not Milnor or Refugee roads, however, she said access is established by Fairfield County, making Spring Creek Drive an entry point for whatever gets built at that location.
Gates said the average rental of a storage tenant is 7 months and that same tenant is likely to be from the immediate area.
"Over 80 percent of our visitors live within a three-mile radius, so we serve a direct need," she said.
"They absolutely live in the area. 'Transient' would be a very poor description, these are not outsiders to our community."
Gates said Storage One owns four other facilities -- two in Canal Winchester, one in Whitehall and another in Pickerington on Windmiller Drive. All are "between 5 to 8 acres" in size, she said.
Gates said all four of Storage One's facilities have generated zero complaints in terms of lighting, traffic or noise.
"There is no noise, no one is allowed to come work on a car or do welding," she said, adding that auctions, while held occasionally, are rare.
"Auctions are required by law, it's how we vacate delinquent customers, but we have not had an on-site auction in our Pickerington location in over four years," Gates said.
"We stay on our customers to avoid such a thing."
Lights are on for the "security and convenience of customers" but they "are deflected to shine within the property, not out," Gates said.
"We do our best to screen and buffer with trees and shrubbery.
"We pride ourselves on being active and supportive of the community," Gates said. "We want to be a good neighbor."