GREENFIELD — Plans are moving forward for developing the rest of a site an office building was moved to last summer, but stop short of what the developer was initially hoping to accomplish.
City planning officials support intentions for climate-controlled self-storage spaces at the location. They rejected plans to allow most of those spaces to be occupied for business uses, however, citing a lack of clarity on what those uses would be.
The project is slated for 1615 Fields Blvd. in Greenfield, west of Big Lots. Last summer, Dan Van Treese had a two-story office building lifted and moved to the site from where Crew Carwash currently operates on State Street. The building will serve as an anchor for what Van Treese envisions as the Fields Business District.
That vision also includes climate-controlled self-storage buildings containing a total of 25 spaces ranging in size from 960 to 1,440 square feet.
Van Treese wanted the units to cater to small businesses like plumbers and electricians in need of space to keep supplies as well as small distributors and online outfits looking for a spot to store their product.
Twenty-two of the spaces are planned to be behind a security fence, six of which were initially proposed to have restrooms.
But officials at the Greenfield Plan Commission meeting earlier this week weren’t on board with measures that would allow those units to be occupied as business spaces.
While Van Treese agreed to bar uses like auto repair and food preparation, Greenfield planning director Joanie Fitzwater said the potential for various uses remains too great and fears the city would be left with oversight of the site, something it’s not equipped to do.
Officials also expressed frustration over the amount of time it’s taken for plans to materialize, recalling the proposal’s first hearing in December 2021 before needing continuances. Clarity is still lacking even several months later, the leaders said, particularly over what kinds of businesses would operate and how they would operate at the site. Van Treese said aside from a plumber and electrician who are interested, he doesn’t know who else will approach him about securing a spot.
“I just don’t want to open the door to anyone utilizing storage units for business purposes — with a storage-unit layout,” Fitzwater said.
She noted as well that the fire safety component of the city planning department’s technical review committee wouldn’t be able to weigh in on the proposal due to not knowing what uses will be there.
“Creating storage units that could be occupied for business use would require a higher level of safety construction than regular traditional storage units, including fire suppression requirements and adequate ingress-egress for commercial development,” reads the planning department’s report on the project.
Van Treese told officials he’d take what he could get.
“If you’re not comfortable with me having those restrooms in there, then I’ll remove them,” he said to the plan commission. “I’m not happy about it. I think it’s shortsighted.”
Fitzwater had also hoped the project was more similar to the Rise Commercial District locations across the country, which offer office, warehouse and business storage space for lease while also providing shared amenities and services that aim to give entrepreneurs starting out the ability to grow.
Three of the spaces outside the security fence at the Fields Business District are proposed to have traditional storefronts and may be able to be used for office and retail purposes, however. They’d also be able to have restrooms.
The plan commission voted 6-2 to approve traditional unoccupied climate-controlled storage units and the three spaces able to be used for commercial purposes, with Paulette Richardson, Kristi Baker, Becky Riley, Chris Cooper, Jason Koch and David Spencer voting in favor and Jeff McClarnon and Gary McDaniel voting against.
“I have no idea what this project is going to be in its final analysis, I really don’t, and I don’t think anybody here does,” McClarnon said.
Plan commission member Mike Terry recused himself from all votes on the matter due to working on the project as a landscape architect.
The plan commission voted 7-1 to deny the hybrid use of occupied storage units along with plumbing or restrooms in any of the units within the security fence, with all but Richardson voting in favor.
Richardson recalled Fitzwater telling Van Treese he could refile in six months and pursue the hybrid use and restrooms when he may have a better sense of who will be operating there.
“My intent was to try and leave some area open for discussion between he and the city,” Richardson said. “Because even though he said he would take what he could get, I think there’s a place for an incubator, but his explanation was all over the place.”