Delta City Council members voted to prohibit storage containers in all but one residential zone inside the city last week.
The decision comes after the city’s planning and zoning body recently recommended even stricter zoning controls on the metal structures.
The changes to city code do not affect existing storage containers in residential areas, nor do they prohibit temporary uses, such as during renovation projects for storing building materials or construction equipment.
The city defines “storage containers” as “any trailer or portable shipping container of any size commonly described as a storage container or storage unit, including, but not limited to, semi-trailers, cargo trailers and any other similar unit with a storage space of greater than two hundred (200) square feet.”
Most council members were in favor of prohibiting them in all residential zones. But after considerable debate agreed to allow them in rural residential RR-2 zones, defined as residential lots at least two acres in size.
The metal containers are also still allowed in the city’s two agriculture zones as well as the municipality’s lone industrial zone. Only one container—painted a neutral color that matches a main structure—is allowed in the rural residential zone and two agriculture zones. No limit is in place for such structures in industrial zones.
Council member Betty Jo Western led opposition to a complete ban on the structures in residential areas.
“I’m not sure just those three zones are the only places that those should be. I feel like if you have a two-acre lot and you’re letting animals and all this come in…” she said during the discussion at last Wednesday’s regular meeting.
Proponents of the ban cited the lack of upkeep that can turn such metal structures into eye sores inside the city. Also cited was the impracticality of simply passing multiple rules and attempting to enforce them in lieu of a total ban in residential zones.
Western said after looking around the city it seemed there were more decent looking storage containers than wooden sheds or other types of out buildings in various states of disrepair.
“I feel like they actually probably look better than a lot of the sheds and the things that we have around that are capturing the rodents…this doesn’t make total sense to me. I feel like this is too restrictive for us here…I have heartburn with it big time,” she said.
Council members Nick Killpack and Brett Bunker said they wanted to follow the planning body’s recommendations since its members spent so much time studying the issue and crafting city policy.
“The P and Z (planning and zoning) expressed that they certainly can be (nice looking), but regulating the providence of them and the condition that they are in is beyond the city to deal with regulating that,” Killpack argued. “So while some of them are very nice and they look great, if we let them in, we have to let the ones in that are about to fall apart…The question then is where to we draw the line?”
Bruce Curtis, owner of Courtesy Ace Hardware in Delta, attended the meeting and shared his personal experience. He said he owns two storage containers, one near his store and one at his home. He told council members the structures are great for his needs since they don’t allow water inside, don’t attract vermin and are essentially fire proof.
“I don’t see the problem. Mice don’t get in them. I got a shed right next to the one at my house and the mice and the spiders and everything else is in there. But not in my storage container,” he said. “Why would you outlaw that when it’s that good of a product?”
Western said she was concerned many residents were going to be caught unaware of the city’s code change.
“I feel like there are more Bruce Curtises out there that feel like, they don’t really know and they’re not involved enough (in city government) that they aren’t understanding this. I guess that’s kind of my concern,” she said. “I’m just not sure all of the residents understand what we are doing here.”
Killpack said he would argue that the city and its planning body both adhere to noticing requirements and hold public hearings to allow residents to weigh in on changes—that many choose not to participate or be informed should not inhibit council decisions.
“By that logic we are never going to get anything done,” he said. “Because we are never going to be able to get the word out about anything well enough to get a good accurate survey of everyone that may be interested.”
Killpack also argued that Delta City wasn’t taking radical action or anything, but following what similarly sized Utah municipalities are already widely doing.
“We’re not crazy here. We’re not overreaching in a way that’s irregular for cities of our size and type. This makes sense in Delta,” he said.
After discussing the item at length council members agreed to a compromise and allowed storage containers in the rural residential, RR-2 zone, but passed prohibitions on the structures in any other residential zone.