Friday, July 9, 2021

Rockville zoning change would allow self-storage use at office buildings in mixed-use employment zones

U-Haul, Inc. has filed a request with the City of Rockville for a zoning change that would permit a self-storage use on existing properties citywide that are currently zoned as MXE (mixed-use employment) zones. The applicant is seeking the change because it would like to install self-storage units in an office building it owns at 1355 Piccard Drive. Self-storage warehouses in MXE zones were eliminated as a permitted use in 2019 by the Mayor and Council, and became a conditional use, and only if the site adjoins property that allows heavy industrial uses.

A zoning text amendment (ZTA) proposed by U-Haul would allow the self-storage use under the following conditions

  • Self-storage would be operated in conjunction with an existing permitted use in the MXE zone
  • Access to the self-storage units is internal-only, from inside the building
  • Self-storage use is located inside an existing office building

The Rockville Planning Commission will receive a briefing on the proposed ZTA at its July 14, 2021 virtual meeting. 

Planning staff have advised against adopting the ZTA. At U-Haul's Piccard Drive building in particular, staff suggests the area proposed for conversion to self-storage is large enough to make that the principal use, rather than a use "in conjunction with" an existing principal use. The change would also reduce the job-creating potential in existing office buildings, staff argues. Any existing, "underperforming" office building could add self-storage as its principal use under the ZTA as proposed, which staff indicates goes against the reasoning behind banning self-storage facilities in MXE zones in the first place.

The ZTA will come back before the Planning Commission on July 28. At that time, commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss and make a formal recommendation to the Mayor and Council on the ZTA.


  1. Hello Robert. Could you post about Halpine View please? Elrich/MoCo gave land to Halpine View in hopes it will be built as affordable apts. I dont believe this. I feel the developers will find a way out of this. Leggett did a land swap with Wash Prop Co. They built a new shelter in back of the firestation on Ga Ave (which is falling apart after just 4.5 years I am told) in exchange for basically all of the Ripley District. The already built buildings(eleven55, solaire ripley, solaire georgia, 1015 ripley have never been rented at 100% capacity and now that newest building is being constructed on colonial/dixon( site of old shelter). Meanwhile there are so many still homeless. Currently they may not be seen as they may be in hotels or community shelters( coffield and long branch community centers are shelters for example ). The health emergency ended July 1st so I do not know when the shelters will close and force residents back to the streets.

    1. 10:21: The kicker about Halpine View is that the owner declared several years ago that many of his units are vacant, because picky people don't want an older-style apartment. Why isn't Montgomery County filling these vacant units, instead of building more, often at even greater taxpayer expense?

      Same with HOC at The Ambassador. They had enough units in other buildings free to take in all the residents of the Ambassador and tear it down? It's hard for developers and the County Council to claim we need more housing when we have all these vacant apartments new and old, and new apartments being filled with airbnb hotel guests and students.