By Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston trustees on Monday voted to schedule a public hearing on the merits of banning new self-storage facilities within the municipality.
Residents can voice their opinions at 6 p.m. Monday, March 4, inside the Morgan Lewis Village Boardroom at the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St.
“We just a found a need to include this in the laws that we have already on the books,” Mayor Anne Welch said.
Village counsel Joseph Leone Jr. said, “This is a separate local law that says the reasons why, and it specifically deals with the definition of self-storage facility – the basis of which comes from New York state lien law that I enhanced a little bit to make it clear.”
The proposed local law, No. 1-2024, which would prohibit self-storage facilities, was explained this way on the agenda:
•The purpose of this Local Law is to amend Appendix B – Zoning of the Village of Lewiston Code of Ordinances with regard to self storage facilities. In doing so, the Mayor and Village Board of Trustees recognize the difficult in balancing the importance of promoting new businesses within the community, and yet recognize the geographical limitations of the Village of Lewiston, being one (1) square mile, and the lack of an industrial zone which could potentially be suitable for self storage facilities. This Local Law is not intended to ban any prior nonconforming use.
•Appendix B – Zoning of the Village of Lewiston Code of Ordinances and in particular, Section 7 – Definitions thereof is hereby amended to enact the following:
•SELF STORAGE FACILITY: Any real property or a portion thereof that is designed and used for the purpose of renting, leasing, or occupying storage space by occupants who are to have access thereto for the purpose of storing and removing personal property. A self storage facility does not include a garage or other storage area in a private residence or other specifically permitted or accessory use.
•A self storage facility is specifically deemed to be not similar in nature and scale to permitted uses in B Districts and R-B Districts. A self storage facility is specifically deemed to be not similar in nature to permitted uses and not consistent with the adopted Village of Lewiston Local Waterfront Revitalization Program in W-D Districts, and not similar in nature to permitted uses and not consistent with the promotion of pedestrian traffic and enhancement of the aesthetic quality in R-B-2 Districts.
•A self storage facility is disqualified from the ability to obtain a Special Use Permit in any district within the Village of Lewiston, New York.
If the law is adopted, new self-storage facilities, as described above, would not be permitted anywhere in the village.
Following the municipal meeting, Trustee Nick Conde said self-storage “was already prohibited, but we wanted to strengthen the wording on it.”
Welch said, “There are certain areas that somebody could go in and build these storage facilities in residential sections.
“Nick came up and he thought we should strengthen the code to make sure that that can't happen.”
Conde said, “Where the (current) zoning fell, there’s a lot of properties that fall right on Center Street” that could potentially be used for self-storage. “I don’t think this board wanted to see storage units on Center Street. … (It) wouldn't look too good. It wouldn’t fit with the village.”
Leone noted a series of steps have to be implemented before the Village Board can change the law.
The proposal will first go to the village’s Planning Commission and then to the Niagara County Planning Board for consideration. This is necessary “because it's a change of the zoning law,” Leone said. Those panels “have the right to weigh in.”
With regard to the self-storage business already operating on Cayuga Street, Leone said the new law “recognizes that there is an existing use, and it's not looking to put that person out of business.”
Moreover, he explained, “Nobody's looking to say that you can't have a garage, or you can't rent a couple of your garage units for somebody. We're talking about a facility.”
He added, “The law that it comes out of deals with people who don't pay their bill – like you see on TV; they're going to sell somebody’s storage unit. That's where the definition of self-storage facility comes from.
“I put a little bit extra in there, just to make sure that it's clarified. But we then say it doesn't include a garage or a storage area in a private residence or other specifically permitted use. So, if I had a garage behind my house that had three stalls and I wanted to use those, I could. We're talking about a full facility.”
In the fall of 2022, a real estate investor presented a plan to convert the Lewiston Event Center into a self-storage facility. Trustees sent the proposal to the Zoning Board of Appeals for clarification on whether or not such a business is permitted in the B-1 business district. By a 4-1 vote, the ZBA ruled self-storage does not align with municipal code Section 9, District Regulations, D.1.b.g.
Once self-storage is reviewed, Welch noted the Village Board might circle back to storage units on residential properties.
“That's something that we have to look at also,” she said. “It's not that you can't have one. A lot of people use them. It's just that we don't want it to be there for a year parked in the driveway, and your neighbors can't see past it. I think there needs to be a time limit on how long you can use it.”
In the News
In other business from this week’s work session, the Village Board approved these motions:
•A request from the Mason FOREVER Foundation to host a 5K Run on Wednesday, June 5.
•Lewiston Assembly of God’s application to rent Academy Park and the Alphonso I. DiMino Memorial Band Shell to host a carnival event from 3-9 p.m. Saturday, May 11. This will serve as a fundraiser to purchase picnic tables for the future park pavilion.
•Lewiston Porter Youth Football & Cheer’s application to use Richard F. Soluri Park (Cayuga Street spoils plateau) for football and cheerleading practice from 5:30-8 p.m. April 15 through Oct. 27, and to host a tournament from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 8-9.
•The annual “Trick or Treat on Center Street” from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. This request includes closing Center Street (Sixth to Fourth streets) for the duration of the event, and the use of Hennepin Park.
•Using $26,243 of the remaining funds from the sale of the “Big Yellow House” (475 Ridge St.) to pay MJ Mechanical Service for two single-zone HVAC systems in the clerk’s and mayor’s offices (as previously approved).