Self-storage project can proceed

Development of a 105,756-square-foot, 34-foot tall Extra Space self-storage building with 534 units can proceed west of La Cañada and north of Tangerine, after the Oro Valley Town Council gave its unanimous OK to a conditional use permit for the facility on Feb. 15.

The building, which would include a 4,000-square-foot retail/office space on its southeast corner, would sit on 2.53 acres within the Miller Ranch development. The ground is zoned for technology park uses. Self-storage is an allowed use within that zone.

Leman Academy of Excellence Oro Valley, located north of the site, would purchase the adjacent, undeveloped 3.94 acres, also zoned for technology park use, to use as sports fields. Leman co-founder Mike Farley committed to council that Leman would not build more classroom space on the property.

“No, absolutely not,” said Farley, noting Leman considers itself “at capacity” on the La Cañada campus. “You want that in writing, we’ll give it to you. We won’t build another building. ... We will go through with our end of this bargain.”

The applicant, Centennial American Properties of Greenville, South Carolina, is minimizing impacts on neighbors to the west by constructing the tallest portions of the self-storage building to the east, closest to La Cañada; eliminating outdoor storage unit access; restricting signage from the western side of the property; turning off tower lighting from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.; orienting the rectangular building to minimize its impact on views; and providing an enhanced buffer yard and screen wall.

Additionally, CAP is going to improve a north-south “spine road” along the property’s west edge that would connect Leman Academy to Tangerine Road, providing “a significant opportunity to improve the overall traffic circulation pattern for the school,” staff wrote. The spine road, along with a new median opening on La Cañada, and a new right-in/right-out access on La Cañada, would give motorists “options to travel in any direction ... ultimately distributing traffic throughout the development and relieving pressure on any one driveway location.”

“We know what the traffic impacts are with Leman,” Town Engineer Paul Keesler said. “This will help spread it out. Some parents are using the spine road in its present form. All I see are benefits for being able to distribute traffic across this site.”

“We could not ask for a better traffic outcome for this property,” Councilmember Steve Solomon said.

Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett drove the parcel with her daughter, age 10. “She nailed it” in observing the spine road would benefit Leman parents, the vice mayor said of her child.

Leman’s students will also get a bigger space for outdoor play. Farley said the school “didn’t get a big enough piece of property” when it acquired land in Miller Ranch in 2016. “We couldn’t afford the piece of property to the south,” Farley said. CAP has been “very generous to us, selling it to us for substantially less than they paid for it,” Farley said. “They’ll build the road, and rough grade the soccer field.”

“I commend you for coming up with creative solutions,” Councilmember Josh Nicolson told CAP principal Brody Glenn. “You did an excellent job.”

“This worked out as good as it could,” Glenn said.

Glenn is a past member of a planning and zoning board in South Carolina. “The process works,” he told the town council. Glenn reviewed a year’s worth of conversations with Oro Valley neighbors and town staff. “It has made this project better,” he said.

Neighbor Carlos Cruz, a retired 32-year Homeland Security agent who bought a premium lot with views of the Santa Catalinas in the neighboring Residences at Miller Ranch, repeated previously aired concerns with activity, what people store in spaces, and primarily view impact. “Now, I’m going to step out into my yard and look at a tower. A tower,” Cruz said. Solomon reaffirmed that any real estate developer or agent would be required to disclose possible uses on property adjacent to a home.

Self-storage facilities are “low traffic-generating uses,” staff writes, and, in fact, “significantly lower than equally sized retail or office spaces,” which are allowed in the tech park zone.

Council voted 7-0 to approve the use.

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