By Monet Ragsdale, Director of Project Management | S3 Partners
Getting entitlements is usually a long process when building an RV, boat, and toy storage facility. Because zoning doesn’t generally affect people’s lives on a daily basis, the complexities of zoning codes can come as a surprise. Getting a good handle on the particulars of the land use regulations that affect a project is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises and costly delays. Below is a brief look at the zoning and entitlement approval process so you can gain a good understanding of the steps ahead.
Verify Zoning & Use
Building and developing an RV, boat, and toy storage facility is a rigorous process and one of the first steps is getting a zoning permit. It’s critical that you research your potential RV, boat, and toy storage facility site and find out how it’s currently zoned.
- Start by determining the correct jurisdiction (city or county). This can be done by searching the parcel in the county assessor or county GIS website. Typically, parcel information will include whether it is within a city limit or an unincorporated county.
- Locate the parcel on the city or county zoning map and determine zone.
- Locate the appropriate zoning ordinance/land development code and navigate to the section specific to the zoning of the property.
- Determine whether the use is allowed by right, allowed by conditional use, or not allowed in the zone.
When Use is Allowed by Right
- Determine site development standards that could impact the development. These will vary by project so it is essential to know your proposed project parameters like building heights, etc. You will want to know setbacks, height limits, FAR (this is how much building you are permitted in relation to the size of the parcel), landscaping, and buffering requirements. These things are critical to how much of the site gets developed for leasable square footage.
- Determine how much parking is required for your use. This varies wildly by jurisdiction and will impact how much of your site must be reserved for parking.
- Determine whether the zoning code has design regulations for commercial projects. This will affect the cost and look of the project.
- Determine whether site plan approval is required for uses allowed by right in the jurisdiction. This information can be located either in the zoning code or on the planning department’s website. If administrative site plan approval is required it can add time to the design and permitting phase of the project.
When Use is Allowed by Conditional Use
- Determine the general process and timeline for a Conditional Use. Many zoning codes outline the process and even the site design conditions that must be met for Conditional Use approval.
- Planning department websites generally have applications and describe the process, timeline, and requirements for Conditional Uses.
- Determine site development standards just like for uses allowed by right.
When Use is Not Allowed in the Zone
Rezones are not a simple process and frankly, most of the time are not an option. When they are possible, they are expensive and time-consuming. When considering a parcel that requires a rezone, it is best to get an experienced consultant to provide guidance on the process and feedback on the likelihood of success.
Ask for Help if Needed
If all of this seems overwhelming, most planning departments have a “Planner of the Day” who is available to answer questions exactly like these. Mostly, these planners will be very helpful, but it is important to remember that they do not know your project so they can only answer the questions you ask. If you want to know if your project works with all the zoning parameters, you will have to ask more than just “Is this use allowed at that address?”
Get a Partner on Your Side
Securing entitlements is only one of many steps in the process. Investing in an RV, boat, and toy storage facility is a huge decision and oftentimes requires a trusted advisor with decades of experience and knowledge. At S3 Partners, we’ve been in this space for years and have seen it all. Whether you’re thinking about building a new facility or adding RV, boat, and toy storage to your existing storage business, we’d love to hear about your plans and help you get there right.
No matter the size of your project, our services keep costs down and maximize your return on investment. Visit us at s3.partners.