New self-storage buildings in Slinger rejected

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

July 21, 2017

Slinger’s Plan Commission has rejected a second attempt by a Slinger developer to construct several self-storage buildings in the village.

Kevin Dittmar of Dittmar Realty sought a conditional use permit at the Commission’s recent July meeting that would have allowed the construction of a self-storage facility on a 5.41-acre site along the west side of Hillside Road/ Highway C. Access to the property would be via American Eagle Drive. The request also sought approval of related site, architectural and lighting plans. The non-inclusion of the project’s landscaping plan was a sore spot for at least one member of the Plan Commission who rejected the request on a 4-3 vote.

In April, Dittmar proposed constructing about 52,000 square feet of enclosed self storage space at a different location — a 4.42 acre property on the south side of American Eagle Drive and bounded on the west by the Interstate 41 northbound on-ramp and Highway 60. The new proposal was to be located on property near the property included in the April request.

Some of the same arguments heard at the Plan Commission meeting in April regarding the earlier proposal were also expressed concerning the request rejected just days ago.

No formal vote on the April request was made by the Plan Commission, but Dittmar allowed that request to die without seeking a public hearing after which he prepared the second proposal. According to the meeting’s minutes, Commissioner and Village Trustee Lee Fredericks said he had received five written comments opposing the request for storage units back in May.

Commission Chairman and Village President Russ Brandt, according to the minutes, said he believed the letters were regarding the storage units that had been proposed in April, not those in the latest plan. Brandt said he would not object to storage units being constructed on the property in Dittmar’s latest request.

During the public hearing at the July meeting, some village residents opposed the request.

Bob Reynolds, of 1595 Pine Cove Court, said neighborhood residents have put “a lot of money into their homes and storage units near them will affect their property value and quality of life.” He said he was against storage units being built.

Jason Bohn, of 1404 American Eagle Drive, told commissioners storage units are not a good use of this property and he was opposed to them being constructed at this location.

Dittmar said there is a need for storage units and his plan is to place them so they are less visible.

Village Planner Marty Marchek said the Slinger fire chief had expressed concerns about the proximity and access to nearby fire hydrants. Marchek said there could be a fire lane off Hillside Road by Washington County or a new hydrant could be installed. Marchek said Washington County will not allow access for a fire lane, so the only option is the new hydrant.

Marchek said Dittmar did not provide a landscaping plan because staff recommended the landscaping plan be approved after the first phase is constructed to allow placement of landscape materials in the most effective manner.

Fredericks said there are other objections to this development, but they were never read into the minutes from the earlier Commission meeting because Dittmar withdrew his request at that time. Fredericks said the property now has a new owner, Wangard, who are experienced property developers.

“There will be other better opportunities that will come forward for the property’s use,” Fredericks said. “We need to be patient and let the economy take it’s course.”

Fredericks reiterated the findings of a study by Economic Development of Washington County, stating the village doesn’t have many large flat parcels to build on.

“The land in question is large and flat and we should not be considering putting storage units on it,” Fredericks said.

The new proposal, he added, doesn’t diversify the tax base, doesn’t create jobs, doesn’t bring people into the village and is not the wisest or best use of the land. Dittmar disagreed and said demographics are changing and millennials and baby boomers are looking for a place to store their belongings as they move to smaller living space.

An attempt was made to reach Dittmar on Thursday to see where the project now stands, but he did not respond.