Zoning Request for Storage Units on Northern Edge of Havasu OK’d

Plans to amend the zoning of several lots along State Route 95 at Lake Havasu City’s northernmost edge
ultimately received a recommendation of approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission. But before
voting, the commission added a couple extra stipulations to ensure a visual buffer is put in place in
conjunction with a planned storage unit development further back from the highway.
The rezone request for a total of six lots north of The Shops at Lake Havasu along the lakeside of the highway
to the intersection with London Bridge Road originally came to City Council in April, but was denied due to
councilmembers’ concerns that the changes would allow storage units along the highway on two of those lots.
Councilmembers noted that area is the first thing that people see when they drive to Lake Havasu City from the
north. Desert Land Group is handling the rezone requests from two separate owners of the two lots. CEO
Mychal Gorden told the commission that Desert Land Group worked with the owners to address the council’s
concerns and came up with a new rezone request that would create a one acre commercial bufer between the
highway and plans for 4.21 acres of storage units.

The new development plan proposal includes all of a lot owned by Lakeside Development along with parts of
the neighboring lot to the south, owned by Jason and Christine Anderson. Lake Havasu City Planner Luke
Morris said the rest of the vacant lot owned by the Andersons will retain its current zoning, which is set up to
accommodate a car dealership.

After extensive discussion, the commission decided to include two extra conditions that would further limit
storage units’ visibility from the road. The first requirement added to the requested planned development
requires planned landscaping on the newly-created commercial buffer lot be completed at the same time that
the storage units are developed. The commission also added a requirement that all of the storage units closest
to the highway have “architectural character” on the side facing SR95 to avoid blank metal walls from being
visible from the road.

The commission voted 7-0 to approve the requested rezone with the added conditions.
During the meeting, Luke Morris told the commission that city staff recommended adding a condition that the
proposed buffer lot along the highway be developed prior to, or at the same time as, the plans for the storage
units on the larger lot. That particular recommendation wasn’t included in the original staff report but Morris
said staff decided to include it after further review.

“We thought it might be good to ensure the buffering is done before the proposed storage units,” Morris said.
Chairman Jim Harris said he felt that particular requirement placed an undue burden on the developer.
Gorden said that recommendation caught him by surprise. He said he opposed the city’s recommendation
because it had not previously been included in any of the reports or notices sent out by the city.
But Commissioner Suzannah Ballard questioned the value of including a one-acre buffer along the highway
without any assurances that development will ever actually materialize. She pointed out that if that property
remains undeveloped, the planned storage units would still be the first thing people see when they drive into

Gorden suggested requiring the landscaping be completed on the proposed new buffer lot along the highway,
rather than requiring everything on the lot be developed first, as a compromise.
Commissioner Chad Nelson suggested placing additional architectural requirements on the highway-facing
walls of future storage units closest to SR95 as an additional way to minimize the potential visual impact of
the storage near the north entrance of town. Gorden said he was okay with that condition, adding that the
current plans are for all of the storage units to have an upscale and visually pleasing appearance.
When the properties were discussed by the council in April, the request included a rezone for four additional
smaller lots on the corner of the property along the highway that councilmembers indicated they supported.
On Wednesday, those four lots were split of into a separate rezone request that was largely the same as the
plans presented in April. Those plans allow any general commercial use on the property except for storage
units. Once developed, those commercial properties will serve as a bufer between SR95 and the existing
storage units that have already been built on three adjacent lots farther from the highway.
The commission unanimously approved the rezone request for the four smaller lots as written, with a planned
development that bars storage units, mandates the façade facing the highway include “architectural
character,” and keeps the maximum building height at 36 feet, rather than the typical 25-foot limit for general
commercial zoning.

All six lots seeking a rezone are part of a 37-acre planned development approved by City Council in 2007 called
Havasu Auto Mall that envisioned car dealerships and some smaller businesses restaurants or retail-type
businesses immediately north of the shops. Although three businesses moved into the lots farthest to the
south, the rest of the development has not proceeded as planned. Gorden said these rezone requests are
meant to free the lots from the development plans approved 14 years ago and allow for more flexibility for
businesses to develop the lot to suit their needs.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council, which will
hold another public hearing for both rezoning requests at a future meeting before taking a final vote to
approve or deny the request.