Town officials in North Providence, Rhode Island have a proposed ordinance ready to go that will limit self-storage facility development. The ordinance will receive consideration by the full council at its Nov. 7 meeting. If the proposal passes, North Providence will join sister suburb East Providence and greater Providence in doing so. Other local communities, including Pawtucket and Central Falls, also have similar limitations in place.
According to numerous area officials, self storage facilities do little to add economic vitality and come with few jobs, generally making them undesirable for major commercial areas. The new ordinance would establish a new district use titled “self-storage facility,” and will limit it to three zones: Industrial, manufacturing limited, and manufacturing general. The ordinance states the limiting self storage development will "protect the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the town of North Providence.”
Councilman Ron Baccala, who previously said he wanted to see a ban on all self-storage facilities in town before suggesting only limiting them to select areas outside of general commercial and residential zones, said, “I’m sure I’m on someone’s dartboard at a self-storage convention somewhere.”
Mayor Charles Lombardi, who has said he has no real issues with the proposal, did acknowledge that the change would mean “very, very limited” options for self-storage facilities. He has proposed allowing self-storage at the old safety complex, an option that is technically still on the table despite opposition from the council. He also sees the value in making a self storage facility part of the redevelopment on Mineral Spring Avenue, as it would be “nothing but tax dollars” and have limited impact on an area with several apartment complexes.
MSM spoke with Charlie Fritts, President of the Northeast Self Storage Association (NeSSA), back in July about potential self storage bans. Fritts acknowledged that while self storage doesn’t employ many workers after the construction period, facilities also don’t add to traffic congestion, put more kids into overcrowded schools, or leave much of a carbon footprint, especially compared to other commercial real estate endeavors. “And we pay the same taxes as everyone else does, the same as hotels, apartment complexes, and so on,” he adds.
Fritts also believes that self storage is needed to meet people's needs. Regarding the Providence ban, he said “I don’t think the city has talked to enough people, or done their research, or understand how developers map out locations. No one is going to build a self storage facility where there’s no market demand for it. No lender is going to loan money to a developer who hasn’t done due diligence.”