Ask Scott: Negotiating Zoning Problems

“We just got shut done on a Self Storage Project in a rural community.  The land use plan basically talks about exclusively agriculture only and no commercial use.  How does a person begin to navigate getting approval for a self storage building?  We have made it blend in with the surrounding farmland by modeling it to look like a barn, it is being located behind a treeline on the least productive part of the farmland it sits on. Curious to find out what ways people have navigated zoning problems with towns/villages that are anti-development, anti-commercial, etc.”

Hello!

To start, how much are you already invested into this situation?  Do you own the land, so it’s build here or bust?  Or were you just scouting out great opportunity and this place came up? If it’s the latter, you really may want to pull up stakes & move on and find a municipality that’s a bit easier to work with.
When faced with this situation before we once went the route of a co-op and got the city to turn from being against strictly “self storage” to working with us and even providing grant money.

My general advice is probably what your mother told you: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Or as Dalton said in Road House: “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”

All that, plus “diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way”.

Good luck!

Scott

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