HANCOCK COUNTY — Representatives from a storage company are pushing county officials for approval to build a new facility along West U.S. 40, but Cumberland officials are mounting a fight against the effort.
Storage Express, a Bloomington-based company, hopes to build a 400-unit self-storage facility on a 4.7-acre lot at 6722 U.S. 40 before the area is annexed by Cumberland; the annexation is pending in local courts but would impose stricter standards on developers.
The Cumberland Town Council is in the process of trying to annex a 286-acre eastward expansion that would allow the town to grow and attract development, council members said. Cumberland officials say a proposal by Storage Express isn’t the type of development they seek.
At the Hancock County Area Plan Commission meeting this month, Anna Pea, a member of the Cumberland Town Council, asked members of the plan commission to deny the developer’s request — despite the fact Cumberland doesn’t yet have authority over the area.
Members of the plan commission opted to delay a decision on the matter until the board’s next meeting, scheduled for June 28 at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place.
Cumberland’s annexation request, which would increase the town’s size by about 20 percent, is pending and isn’t expected to go to trial for weeks.
The storage facility would make the surrounding land less appealing to developers who want to put in retail or corporate facilities, making it more difficult for Cumberland to develop the area if it is annexed into town limits, Pea said.
“We only have one shot to get this right,” Pea said. “This kind of development goes completely against all of the changes that need to come to Hancock County.”
Cumberland, should it prove successful in annexing the area, plans to impose stricter development standards, requiring nicer facades and increased setbacks from the highway.
Several residents also have spoken up against the development.
Mike Dale, director of the county building and planning department, said he’s received nearly 30 letters from residents in the area who oppose the facility. Some are concerned it could attract criminal activity, while others say the area is already overpopulated by storage facilities.
County resident Ron Sanders said he’s concerned about the impact of the facility on traffic along U.S. 40. Eastway Apartments, which sits opposite the proposed building site, generates a lot of activity in the area, Sanders said. He worries another development would present a hazard to passing motorists.
Jefferson Shreve, owner of Storage Express, which has 91 locations across Indiana and surrounding states, said the company’s facilities average three visitors an hour – not enough to create a substantial impact on traffic, he said.
Shreve said Cumberland officials’ concerns that developers won’t want to build next to a storage facility are unfounded; plenty of other companies have built around the company’s existing locations, he said.
If plans are approved, the storage facility would consist of heated, cooled and traditional units measuring anywhere from 50-square-feet to 300-square-feet. Rates have not been decided.
Members of the plan commission are expected to make a decision about whether to allow Storage Express to build a self-storage facility on West U.S. 40 at the board’s next meeting, scheduled for June 28 at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place.