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Rezoning approved for more storage
January 16, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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A request for a zoning change from a Gering businessman led the city council to discuss whether it’s time to limit the number of storage units being built in the city.

The rezoning request came from Eric Kautz, owner of the Gering Garden Center. He told council members he wanted to build storage units on four acres of his property next to his business. He said he needed some “year round income” to supplement his business.

Council member Larry Gibbs said the business is surrounded by one of the city’s prime residential areas and asked whether storage units would be the best use of the property. Kautz admitted he had not explored the idea of rezoning and then developing the area for housing.

Gibbs said the council receives requests for zoning changes on a regular basis, most of them to build storage units. Gibbs said storage units now take up some of the city’s prime commercial properties.

But council member Justin Allred disagreed, saying the rezoning request, along with another in the Midtown section of Gering, involve land that has been undeveloped for years.

Fellow council member Julie Morrison said that Kautz should be able to do what he thinks is best with his property. “He bought it. He paid taxes for it all these years. It is his land and it is up to him what he does with the land.”

Gibbs said commercial businesses and properties generate income for the city, but storage units are another matter. There is no sales tax on rental fees. The property tax the city receives is minimal because storage units are, by their nature, unfinished buildings.

“Apparently, storage units generate nothing for the community,” Gibbs said after the council meeting. “They’re now moving into some of our better commercial areas. That eliminates any opportunity to use the property for a business. As a council, we’re responsible for directing the development of the community.”

Council members voted 6-1 to approve Kautz’s rezoning request with Gibbs casting the lone ‘no’ vote.

Gibbs said he has asked the city’s Public Works Committee to discuss the issue further. City staff will also research how many storage units are located in Gering and how many additional units are being planned.

He added the city also has the option of implementing an occupation tax that would help bring some revenue into the city.
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