Stow -- A local company will be allowed to construct a 13,000-square-foot self-storage building off Allen Road.

At its Oct. 13 meeting, City Council approved 4-2 a conditional zoning certificate for the building on a 3.5-acre vacant parcel zoned I-2 industrial on the west side of Allen and on the north side of Hampshire Road.

Council President Mike Rasor and Councilor Brian D'Antonio voted no and Councilor John Pribonic was absent.

The planning commission voted Sept. 26 to recommend that Council approve the certificate.

Property owner and developer MRT Properties Inc. already has three office / warehouse buildings, called flex buildings, totaling 52,766 square feet and two self-storage buildings totaling 27,600 square feet in its Allen Road Business Center to the west of the Allen and Hampshire corner parcel.

MRT Properties Vice President Martin Levin said during Council's Oct. 13 planning committee meeting, before the regular meeting, that the company began constructing the business center about 30 years ago.

"We are a home-grown business and very proud of what we've done," he said.

He also said that the new building would be for storage of vehicles, such as motor homes, recreational vehicles and custom and classic cars.

"Hopefully, some of the vehicles that are parked in driveways and on grass areas in this lovely city will not be there because they will decide to come and partake of our nice new building," he said.

At a July 26 meeting, the planning commission considered a more ambitious plan for two 13,000-square-foot self-storage buildings and a 15,000-square-foot flex building on the corner. It was a study item, with no vote, but commission members and Planning Director Rob Kurtz said they found the proposal problematic.

MRT Properties President Jim Levin told the commission at the July meeting that the company wanted to construct the storage buildings in the near future, but he estimated that due to current market conditions, the flex building probably would not be constructed for another six to 10 years.

Kurtz said this would bring the proposal too much in conflict with city ordinances adopted in the early 2000s, which would require the storage buildings to be constructed behind the flex building. He said this is partially due to aesthetics, but also because the city considers buildings such as office / warehouses beneficial to economic development efforts and wants to encourage their construction over self-storage buildings, which are not considered beneficial because they bring in few if any jobs.

Kurtz said exceptions can be made, but he and the city's planning department were having difficulty justifying one in this case.

Kurtz, however, told the commission Sept. 26 that the revised proposal is more palatable because there would be only one storage building and while it would be 60 feet from Hampshire, it would be 380 feet from Allen road, leaving plenty of space for future development between Allen and the storage building.

Martin Levin told Council Oct. 13 that he still expected an office or flex building would be constructed on the site eventually.

"That's our intent," he said.

D'Antonio said just before casting his "no" vote during the regular meeting that "I appreciate [MRT Properties] bringing more business to the city," but "I think the zoning that was changed roughly 10 years ago not allowing storage units on the frontage of the property was made for a reason."

Rasor said he agreed with D'Antonio.


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