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Long Island Civic Group Fighting Back Against Zoning That Would Allow High-Rise Self Storage Facilities

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- As the self storage industry grows, warehouses are getting taller..

Residents in one Long Island community say they've seen enough of the private storage lockers and are battling back, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.

Behind the roll-up doors and combination locks is a growing $38 billion industry. Self storage warehouses are moving into our area at a steady clip and one community group says it's sick of them.

"Within a three-mile radius we have eight, nine, 10, something like that, storage units," said James Bouklas, the president of We Are Nesconset civic group.

Long Island Storage Units
(credit: CBS2)

Bouklas is appealing to Smithtown council members to block zoning that would allow units to be built taller.

"We have a law that removes a height requirement of 24 feet on these storage units," Bouklas said.

MORETurning Storage Spaces Into The Ultimate Escape

Smithtown is working on a new master plan to make its downtowns more appealing. Changes are coming and are being debated at a series of public hearings.

"They are using probably over $1 million of our tax money for the master plan. We should have a moratorium. No more zone changes," homeowner Patty Stoddard said.

The fear is that self storage lockers will spring up in light industrial areas closer to parks and homes.

"What are you storing? What do we need that much storage for? To me, it's just a precedent. They are looking to get some sort of a precedent because if we allow a high-rise storage unit then its going to give the OK for us to allow a high-rise hotel," homeowner Phyllis Hart said.

The town says it is committed to a balance of smart redevelopment focusing on vacant store fronts and derelict shopping centers.

"You will still have a lot of zoning restrictions in place, such as height, gross floor area, parking spaces, buffers, so I feel everyone is protected," Smithtown planning director Peter Hans said.

The self storage industry predicts that 1 in 11 Americans will pay for space to store their overflow this year. Some Smithtown residents hope that won't translate to their backyards.

The zoning change proposals will be up for a vote in March.

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