Another self-storage facility in Isle of Wight?

Published 6:19 pm Thursday, May 26, 2022

IW planners want data showing a need


Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission has postponed voting on a zoning change that would allow a 120,000-square-foot self-storage facility along Carrollton Boulevard.

W.C. Sawyer, owner of Sawco Self Storage, applied in March for an amendment to the 8-acre property’s conditional general commercial zoning for the proposed 468 units and an additional 64 parking spaces for recreational and commercial vehicle storage.

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The property, located just over half a mile southeast of the existing Sawco Self Storage facility on Carrollton Boulevard, had been previously rezoned in 2009 under the ownership of a prior developer who had proposed at the time to build retail and office space on the site. According to Amy Ring, the county’s community development director, the original conditions proffered by the previous developer included a prohibition on mini-warehouses or self-storage units.

A conceptual rendering shows a brick fence shielding much of the site from view of the highway. The current concept plan calls for a single right-turn-in, right-turn-out entrance in lieu of the 2009-proffered turn lane improvements owing to the estimated reduction in traffic compared to the then-proposed office complex. Sawyer has also proposed to create a multipurpose trail across the frontage of the parcel.

Beverly Walkup, who retired as the county’s planning and zoning director in 2016, spoke at the May 24 meeting’s public hearing on the matter in support of Sawyer, as did Sam Cratch and Sherry Vincent.

“I feel it will be a good improvement for the county and for Route 17,” said Vincent, who runs the State Farm insurance office adjacent to the proposed site.

Commissioner Thomas Distefano, however, questioned whether “market saturation” was an issue. Ring noted there are seven other self-storage facilities in northern Isle of Wight County.

“Does our current market provide a demand signal that would warrant opening another storage location in the county?” Distefano asked.

Walkup replied that Sawyer’s existing facility was “running out of space.” The proposed facility would serve as a second site.

“Mr. Sawyer wouldn’t be making this investment if he didn’t feel that the need was there,” Walkup said.

As for RV storage, “There is a need out there,” Walkup said, noting county ordinances that in some cases prohibit residents from keeping RVs permanently parked at their homes. The site, she said, would not only serve RV owners but drivers of commercial vehicles without a place to store them.

Commissioner Thomas Duerig said he’s stored his RV at the existing Sawco site and could attest to the demand, at least for RV parking.

“I do know he’s fully booked up,” Duerig said. “There’s very few open spots that I’m aware of.”

DiStefano still pushed for Sawyer to return next month with data that could show a need in the county for the proposed facility, and moved to table the matter until then. His motion passed 4-2. Commissioner Bobby Bowser and Chairman Brian Carroll cast the dissenting votes.