Another self-storage business planned near Crystal Lake entry point; city opposes county zoning change

Potential new owners indicate they’ll plan to put a self-storage facility there

McHenry County Board members during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

A new self-storage facility might soon be coming to the former Flowerwood Nursery property just outside of Crystal Lake – but the city formally is opposing the plans.

The McHenry County Board is set to vote Tuesday on a zoning change that would pave the way for the storage business to locate on the property near the intersection of Routes 176 and 14 on Crystal Lake’s west side.

The now-closed Flowerwood Nursery owns the property – and developer Prairie Enterprises LLC is under contract to buy it, according to county documents. When asked at a zoning board hearing in March whether he would go through with buying the property if the change wasn’t approved, Kyle Lindley of Prairie Enterprises indicated he wouldn’t, according to meeting minutes.

Prairie Enterprises also has three self-storage facilities in McHenry County: Highway 20 Self Storage in Marengo and Pyott Road Self Storage and Big Stuff Storage, which are next to each other in Lake in the Hills.

The “demand for storage is out there,” Lindley said following a McHenry County Board committee meeting discussing the zoning change proposal Thursday.

The property is just outside city limits, so it falls under the county’s jurisdiction, but the city of Crystal Lake filed an objection to the zoning change with the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals, according to county documents.

“Storage is not the highest and best use for this site,” Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian wrote in a letter filing the objection addressed to the zoning board.

Haleblian wrote that since a storage facility would be a permitted use under the zoning developers are seeking, it wouldn’t require further review.

“The absence of such reviews fails to protect adjacent property owners by not requiring design standards, landscaping and signage control,” Haleblian said in the letter.

McHenry County Board members discussed the proposal ahead of a Tuesday vote. Some board members expressed skepticism at the timing of Crystal Lake’s objection, which was dated March 25. The zoning board held a hearing and unanimously approved the zoning change March 28.

The city has had “every opportunity in the past to annex this,” board member Terri Greeno, R-Crystal Lake, said. “I just don’t understand why they weren’t proactive.”

Among Crystal Lake’s objections was that the intersection is a “gateway” to the city, which is similar to the argument the city’s plan commission made in voting against a separate self-storage facility on the former Crystal Bowl site at the intersection of Routes 176 and 31 on the other side of town. The Crystal Lake City Council ultimately approved the facility last week, despite the plan commission objection.

Three-quarters of the 18 McHenry County Board members will have to vote in favor of the proposal if it is to pass because Crystal Lake filed an objection. Board member Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, said Thursday he would have to recuse himself because the property owner is a client of his.

Board member John Reinert, R-Crystal Lake, expressed concerns about the proposal’s impact on the Crystal Lake watershed.He added he wasn’t saying if he’d vote for or against the self-storage proposal, but said unlike the Crystal Bowl facility, “this is actually a threat to Crystal Lake.”

Many County Board members expressed support for the proposal.

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