PAOLA — Several members of the Indian Hills subdivision attended a recent public hearing to oppose the proposed development of a nearby mini storage facility, but the Paola Planning Commission still recommended approval of the project.
The proposed development would include 13 10-foot-by-20-foot storage units within a 2,600-square-foot building located on a currently vacant 1.75-acre lot on the south side of Sundance Drive. The proposed storage facility would be east of the Paola Justice Center and Paola Sundance Apartments and west of the Indian Hills subdivision.
About a dozen Indian Hills residents, including home owners association president Gerri Diviney, attended a public hearing Thursday, Dec. 19, to oppose the project and the required conditional-use permit.
The residents expressed concerns about the appearance of the units next to a residential neighborhood, a potential decrease in surrounding property values, a potential increase in traffic along already narrow streets and an entrance being cut into a sidewalk on Sundance Drive that is heavily used.
“None of us want to view a storage unit,” Diviney said.
Paola City Councilman Aaron Nickelson previously raised concerns about the project earlier in December, specifically questioning if it is a fit for the neighborhood and asking how it could be built in a flood plain.
Legacy Properties & Development is the applicant for the CUP, and owner Rob George said he has permission from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to build in the flood plain, and the land will be raised to the necessary level.
George attended the public hearing Dec. 19 and responded to the concerns raised by Indian Hills residents. George said he is a local developer, and he came up with the storage unit plan because it is about the only thing that will fit on the property and he thought it could be utilized by residents of Indian Hills or the nearby apartment complex.
“I’m not the big, bad developer,” George said. “I’m your neighbor.”
He added that there will be no gravel areas, it will be hard-surfaced, and there will only by one entrance into the facility.
Planning Commissioner Travis Hardwick said he supports the project because it would develop a piece of property that has become overgrown in the past and been a gathering spot for homeless individuals.
Hardwick also pointed out that the property is zoned Thoroughfare Access, which allows for both residential and commercial development. The reason the current proposal requires a conditional-use permit is because storage units were not included in the city’s land development ordinance.
Planning Commissioner Steve Cowman agreed, pointing out that another commercial entity with a higher density and use could develop on the property without having to acquire a CUP. He also said there is always going to be a case where commercial development bumps up to residential development, and he used the east side of the Indian Hills development as an example of that.
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the conditional-use permit with the condition that there will be no exterior storage and no overnight parking. The parking lot also must be set back 15 feet from the road.
Final approval must come from the Paola City Council. The council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 14, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Paola Justice Center.