Commissioners Table Cargo Containers Ordinance For Further Review

May 21, 2024 at 7:21 p.m.
Attorney Steve Snyder tells the Kosciusko County Commissioners about his concerns with an ordinance regarding cargo containers. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Attorney Steve Snyder tells the Kosciusko County Commissioners about his concerns with an ordinance regarding cargo containers. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

By David L. Slone

An ordinance regarding cargo containers was tabled today by the Kosciusko County Commissioners for further review by the Area Plan Commission after the commissioners and attorney Steve Snyder expressed some concerns about it.
The Plan Commission voted at their May meeting to recommend to the commissioners that the ordinance be approved, Area Plan Assistant Director Andrew Heltzel told the commissioners Tuesday.
Commissioner Cary Groninger asked, as the ordinance is currently written, “What does it say as far as the containers, the color of them and/or signage or lettering on the side of those?” He said he didn’t want to see containers all over the county with gaudy colors or names all over the sides of them. “Does the ordinance address that at all?”
Heltzel said the only thing in the ordinance that was presented today that limits appearance is if it’s attached to another building. The color of the container would have to be consistent to the color of the building it’s attached to.
“As far as signage is concerned, our current sign ordinance, if they were to paint it to advertise through their own business or the business that is operating on that parcel, that would be restricted that way. But as far as if it would say something on it, there’s nothing in this ordinance that’s presented today that would limit that,” Heltzel said.
Groninger asked if they could add something to the ordinance about that. Commissioner Brad Jackson wanted the ordinance to state that any previous lettering on the container should be covered over.
Heltzel had an optional addition to the ordinance, and while it doesn’t address lettering that came pre-painted on the container, it does say, “Permanent cargo containers shall be consistent in colors to adjacent structures on the immediate parcel.” That’s for any cargo container, whether they’re attached to a nearby structure or not. “So if there’s a house that’s gray and the cargo container would be yellow, even if it’s on the other end of the parcel, it would have to be painted to be consistent with the structure on the parcel.”
Commissioner Bob Conley said they were concerned about companies or people advertising on the containers for other companies or people. Heltzel said that would be restricted under the county sign ordinance.
“Even now, Midwest Rake down on Country Club Road - beautiful fencing, beautiful building, they maintain it really nicely, but they moved in a double stack. These containers are above their nice white fence with this Japanese or Chinese stuff. Just doesn’t look right. Would that be addressed in this?” Conley asked.
Heltzel said not in the other option he wrote. He would have to write up another part of the ordinance to state that. The only option he has is for the entire color of the containers.
The commissioners wanted to see the containers be one color and without writing on them.
Snyder told the commissioners he “got to the game late” and is trying to figure out what is going on with the ordinance. He said there were a couple versions of the ordinance amendment that were circulated, and the one approved by the Area Plan Commission had “significant” modifications to it compared to the one before that.
“My client, Mobile Storage Near to You, actually took the original one out and circulated it and there were a lot of people, a lot of businesses, who indicated they wanted to approve that. And then the Plan Commission, at its hearing, considered one that was essentially completely different,” Snyder said.
Looking at the one approved by the Plan Commission, he said there were a number of issues that needed to be clarified with the three-page ordinance amendment. He said it probably needed to go back before the Plan Commission for reconsideration. He presented the commissioners with a copy of the ordinance containing his suggested changes.
Under accessory uses, it states cargo containers “permanent or temporary, shall not be placed on any public streets/roads, street/road rights of way, alleys, street parking spaces, off-street parking spaces” and more. Snyder said if you have a temporary cargo container, the area where the container may go for best access may take a parking space or more. Snyder suggested adding to that, “It simply can not reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces for that facility. That would allow it to go into off-street parking, which normally would be the most convenient place.”
The ordinance also states “Permits shall be required prior to the placement of any cargo container whether rented, leased or purchased regardless of size.” Snyder said an exception for emergencies was needed, so he suggested adding an improvement location permit application shall be made within three business days afterward.
“The real meat of the changes come in 3.5.3.2. They’re permitted uses within industrial 1, 2, 3 and public use. But then I think we need to expand it to allow that as exception uses in residential and commercial districts. But I don’t think you need to prohibit them, especially in commercial districts, and allow the BZA to then make the determination whether the approval of an exception for a cargo container or residential or commercial district meets the rest of the requirements under the zoning ordinance for an exception use. Leave that to the Board of Zoning Appeals rather than simply prohibiting them within a town’s corporate limits in a residential or commercial district,” Snyder stated.
He also wanted an exception use in residential and agricultural 2 use districts, leaving the determination to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
On temporary containers, the ordinance states that they may be used for relocation to or from a property in a residential zone. Snyder pointed out that there are residences in every zoning district in the county, which means a person living in a residence in a non-residential zone couldn’t use a storage container for temporary use. He suggested the containers be allowed to be used temporarily by all owners of a residence in any zoning district.
After his clarification suggestions, Snyder suggested the ordinance be sent back to the Plan Commission for consideration.
Jackson made a motion to table the ordinance and send it back to the Plan Commission for further consideration.
Groninger said he was not in favor of the containers being in residential districts at all, except for temporary use.
Heltzel thanked everyone for their concerns, adding that they hadn’t heard them during the Plan Commission’s hearing on the ordinance.
Groninger seconded Jackson’s motion and the motion passed 3-0.

An ordinance regarding cargo containers was tabled today by the Kosciusko County Commissioners for further review by the Area Plan Commission after the commissioners and attorney Steve Snyder expressed some concerns about it.
The Plan Commission voted at their May meeting to recommend to the commissioners that the ordinance be approved, Area Plan Assistant Director Andrew Heltzel told the commissioners Tuesday.
Commissioner Cary Groninger asked, as the ordinance is currently written, “What does it say as far as the containers, the color of them and/or signage or lettering on the side of those?” He said he didn’t want to see containers all over the county with gaudy colors or names all over the sides of them. “Does the ordinance address that at all?”
Heltzel said the only thing in the ordinance that was presented today that limits appearance is if it’s attached to another building. The color of the container would have to be consistent to the color of the building it’s attached to.
“As far as signage is concerned, our current sign ordinance, if they were to paint it to advertise through their own business or the business that is operating on that parcel, that would be restricted that way. But as far as if it would say something on it, there’s nothing in this ordinance that’s presented today that would limit that,” Heltzel said.
Groninger asked if they could add something to the ordinance about that. Commissioner Brad Jackson wanted the ordinance to state that any previous lettering on the container should be covered over.
Heltzel had an optional addition to the ordinance, and while it doesn’t address lettering that came pre-painted on the container, it does say, “Permanent cargo containers shall be consistent in colors to adjacent structures on the immediate parcel.” That’s for any cargo container, whether they’re attached to a nearby structure or not. “So if there’s a house that’s gray and the cargo container would be yellow, even if it’s on the other end of the parcel, it would have to be painted to be consistent with the structure on the parcel.”
Commissioner Bob Conley said they were concerned about companies or people advertising on the containers for other companies or people. Heltzel said that would be restricted under the county sign ordinance.
“Even now, Midwest Rake down on Country Club Road - beautiful fencing, beautiful building, they maintain it really nicely, but they moved in a double stack. These containers are above their nice white fence with this Japanese or Chinese stuff. Just doesn’t look right. Would that be addressed in this?” Conley asked.
Heltzel said not in the other option he wrote. He would have to write up another part of the ordinance to state that. The only option he has is for the entire color of the containers.
The commissioners wanted to see the containers be one color and without writing on them.
Snyder told the commissioners he “got to the game late” and is trying to figure out what is going on with the ordinance. He said there were a couple versions of the ordinance amendment that were circulated, and the one approved by the Area Plan Commission had “significant” modifications to it compared to the one before that.
“My client, Mobile Storage Near to You, actually took the original one out and circulated it and there were a lot of people, a lot of businesses, who indicated they wanted to approve that. And then the Plan Commission, at its hearing, considered one that was essentially completely different,” Snyder said.
Looking at the one approved by the Plan Commission, he said there were a number of issues that needed to be clarified with the three-page ordinance amendment. He said it probably needed to go back before the Plan Commission for reconsideration. He presented the commissioners with a copy of the ordinance containing his suggested changes.
Under accessory uses, it states cargo containers “permanent or temporary, shall not be placed on any public streets/roads, street/road rights of way, alleys, street parking spaces, off-street parking spaces” and more. Snyder said if you have a temporary cargo container, the area where the container may go for best access may take a parking space or more. Snyder suggested adding to that, “It simply can not reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces for that facility. That would allow it to go into off-street parking, which normally would be the most convenient place.”
The ordinance also states “Permits shall be required prior to the placement of any cargo container whether rented, leased or purchased regardless of size.” Snyder said an exception for emergencies was needed, so he suggested adding an improvement location permit application shall be made within three business days afterward.
“The real meat of the changes come in 3.5.3.2. They’re permitted uses within industrial 1, 2, 3 and public use. But then I think we need to expand it to allow that as exception uses in residential and commercial districts. But I don’t think you need to prohibit them, especially in commercial districts, and allow the BZA to then make the determination whether the approval of an exception for a cargo container or residential or commercial district meets the rest of the requirements under the zoning ordinance for an exception use. Leave that to the Board of Zoning Appeals rather than simply prohibiting them within a town’s corporate limits in a residential or commercial district,” Snyder stated.
He also wanted an exception use in residential and agricultural 2 use districts, leaving the determination to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
On temporary containers, the ordinance states that they may be used for relocation to or from a property in a residential zone. Snyder pointed out that there are residences in every zoning district in the county, which means a person living in a residence in a non-residential zone couldn’t use a storage container for temporary use. He suggested the containers be allowed to be used temporarily by all owners of a residence in any zoning district.
After his clarification suggestions, Snyder suggested the ordinance be sent back to the Plan Commission for consideration.
Jackson made a motion to table the ordinance and send it back to the Plan Commission for further consideration.
Groninger said he was not in favor of the containers being in residential districts at all, except for temporary use.
Heltzel thanked everyone for their concerns, adding that they hadn’t heard them during the Plan Commission’s hearing on the ordinance.
Groninger seconded Jackson’s motion and the motion passed 3-0.

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