More than 114,000 square feet of self-storage space is coming to a six-acre property off Beard Road.
Winter Garden residents needing more space soon will have a new option for self-storage services.
City leaders approved two ordinances during the June 11 City Commission meeting that allow the new storage facility to be built on 6.01 acres at 1577 and 894 Beard Road. The ordinances change the future land-use designation from Low Density Residential to Commercial and rezone the property from R-1 Residential District to Planned Commercial Development.
According to city documents, the proposed facility may be branded as Extra Space Storage and include a total of 114,641 square feet. The project consists of one three-story main building and five single-story storage structures. These surround an internal vehicle storage area with canopies.
City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said the property owner at one time wanted to build housing. However, because of the property’s proximity to Florida’s Turnpike, city staff did not believe that would be the best use.
“Oftentimes, we look at uses, and sometimes we get the best use we can get and have no other choice,” Bollhoefer said. “This is different. You look at the property, there’s a highway there. We don't think you would get any good-quality housing right across the street from a very loud highway. We looked in the past — that is not a good site. After reviewing this piece of property … and the fact that the school is nearby, (and) the issues with the roads not being able to handle traffic, we thought as a staff that the actual best use for the property was for a storage unit.”
Winter Garden resident Tom Hagen spoke against the storage facility, saying one of his concerns about the property was going from residential to commercial use when there is no surrounding commercial use nearby.
“There are no commercial properties, and now, we’re setting a precedent moving from a residential area to a commercial,” Hagen said. “On the city's zoning map, you can see where there are no commercial properties in this area. This area (also) is a watershed area for Black Lake and Johns Lake. … Building a large structure like this in a wetland area — and I understand it’s not in the wetland area, but it’s extremely close, as close as your could possibly get to the wetland area — (could) cause more runoff into that wetland area.”
Hagen also expressed concerns about the local wildlife, adding that there is an eagle’s nest nearby as well as a family of otters, owls and more.
“I get it, I understand it’s a good use fro the property, but is there really a need for storage units in the area?” Hagen asked. “We have a ton of storage units on (State Road) 50.”
Bollhoefer said the city has a long history of turning down storage units; however, this ended up being a site that “was probably the best place for it.”
“As for as environmental impact, housing would create a greater environmental impact than if you were to put these storage units in,” Bollhoefer said. “From an environmental standpoint, we believe it is a much safer use.”
Another resident, Allison Painter, asked about the possibility of the city buying the land and putting a park on it rather than developing it.
“I’m just saying that every piece of property we have, we don't need to build on it,” Painter said.
Bollhoefer said when the city looks for areas to designate as parks, staff looks for the best piece of land on which to build them.
“We would never choose a piece of land adjacent to a highway — it’s just not the best location for a park,” he said. “(When) you have limited dollars for parks, you’re going to spend it on the land that is the wisest and best use of money.”