Tysons self-storage facility disputes county fines for commercial vehicle parking

Self Storage Plus in Tysons (via Google Maps)

The storage functions offered by Self Storage Plus in Tysons weren’t meant to extend to the parking lot, the Fairfax County Department of Code Compliance (DCC) says.

The self-storage facility at 1764 Old Meadow Lane faces potentially hundreds of dollars in fines for keeping mobile storage units and other commercial vehicles in its parking lot, according to a notice of violation issued by a code compliance investigator for the county on July 26.

Self Storage Plus is seeking to fight or at least postpone the notice, stating that it opened the facility in 2020 “in good faith” under the assumption that commercial vehicle parking was permitted on the site.

“They were unaware that the storage of exterior storage units and the commercial parking of vehicles and trailers on the parking lot of the Subject Property was not in conformance with the approved proffers that govern the site,” Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh partner Lynne Strobel wrote in an Aug. 23 appeal statement on behalf of Self Storage Plus.

According to the county’s notice, investigator Matthew Stengel found during a July 19 inspection that “exterior storage units, vehicles, and trailers [were] being stored in the parking lot” in violation of the site’s development conditions, which were approved in 2016.

The county’s Zoning Evaluation Division issued a letter on Jan. 24, 2018 confirming that the plan requires “that loading areas be fully enclosed…with no outward signs of storage bay doors, storage items or lighted hallways.”

“The use limitations further state there shall be amble [sic] circulation and parking on-site and that there must be no incidental parking and storage of trucks, trailers and/or moving vans,” the letter said.

Self Storage Plus was hit with a notice of violation for the same issue on Feb. 18, 2022. The county imposes a $200 fine for a first zoning proffer violation and $500 for each subsequent violation.

The notice directs the company to remove the vehicles from the parking lot or amend its development plan to allow the “incidental parking,” which requires the approval of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Noting that the property was previously used for self-storage by CubeSmart, Strobel says Self Storage Plus believed, based on feedback from industry consultants, that a portion could be used for off-street commercial parking, and the portable storage units were allowed as an accessory use, since they support the main storage establishment.

“Therefore, the Owners reasonably believed it was lawfully permitted to park commercial vehicles and trailers…as well as maintain exterior storage units,” Strobel wrote, arguing that the company would be unable to “effectively operate” its facility without the vehicles.

According to the appeal statement, the 2022 violation was also appealed and later voided by the Virginia Supreme Court’s strikedown of the county’s updated zoning ordinance, which got re-approved by the Board of Supervisors without significant changes on May 9.

The new appeal is intended to protect Self Storage Plus’ rights and stop any enforcement of the violation while the company conducts “additional research, investigation, and discussions with County staff.”

The company also plans to “explore possible legislative land use solutions,” such as an amendment, to legally allow the commercial vehicle and storage unit parking.

If accepted for review by the county, the appeal will go to the Board of Zoning Appeals, followed by the Board of Supervisors.

Image via Google Maps