Mini-storage units could be banned from a certain part of downtown Charleston and others would have to go through a more rigorous public screening process under a new city proposal.

The plan to be considered Wednesday by the Planning Commission specifically prohibits mini-warehouse and storage uses in the urban commercial district. That's the high-density residential area immediately around the College of Charleston where general business uses are also allowed, according to Jacob Lindsey, the city's planning director.

He called the college area a prime district of concern with the transient student population nestled next to residential housing.

"We don't want to see mini-warehouse facilities in or near our neighborhoods," he said.

AAA Downtown Storage

Proposed changes to Charleston's rules on mini-storage units would not affect existing properties such as AAA Downtown Storage on Line Street. File/Staff

The commission also will consider a change that requires future mini-storage developments to go through a level of review similar to hotels, Lindsey said.

The change involves classifying self-storage uses from a conditional use to a special exception use in areas zoned for general business. Those areas exist all across the city.

If approved, the proposal will require applications for mini-storage units - similar to requests for auto repair shops, gas stations, veterinary clinics and stables - to go through the Board of Zoning Appeals before they can move forward.

"This is so folks in our neighborhoods have ample time to give input on mini-storage facilities," Lindsey said.

He cited a four-story, storage structure built in 2013 in West Ashley as an example to guard against. The hulking facility on St. Andrews Boulevard was built on a lot that is not in city limits, resulting in a backlash from from nearby residents.

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While the change would encompass all parts of the city classified for general business use, Charleston officials are most concerned about neighborhoods next to businesses in West Ashley, a part of the city where Mayor John Tecklenburg has focused his revitalization efforts.

"We are not targeting a specific property," Lindsey said. "It's more about West Ashley. We think you will see a lot more demand near neighborhoods ... and we have seen an increase in interest in building mini-storage facilities across the city."

The proposed restrictions would not affect peninsular operations such as the existing AAA Downtown Storage on Line Street. They also would not impact a proposal by U-Haul, which has filed a site plan for a five-story, storage business on its half-block property bounded by King, Spring and Columbus streets. The city wants to turn the U-Haul site into a park. No headway has been made on that effort, Lindsey said.

About a block away, developers last year bought the property where AAA Downtown Storage operates around an antebellum smokestack on Line Street. An environmental cleanup plan for the site calls for a mix of uses, including apartments, businesses and open space.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or warrenlancewise@twitter.com.