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Spearfish approves 1st reading of portable storage container ordinance

October 4, 2018

SPEARFISH — The Spearfish City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to adopt regulations and standards for the placement of portable storage containers (PSC) within the city.

“This just simply sets up some rules for how to use portable storage containers, running the gamut from anybody who’s doing a home remodel, to moving out on a Saturday and a Sunday and it’s gone on Monday, to those who wish to use it permanently,” City Planner Jayna Watson explained. “It just establishes all those (regulations) related to where they should be located …”

The planning commission recommended the drafted text in October 2016.

The ordinance defines a PSC as “standardized prefabricated metal structures originally designed for, or used in, the packing, storage, shipping, movement or transportation of cargo, freight, goods, equipment or commodities. A PSC is fully enclosed with a floor, walls, ceiling, and a sealed door to withstand harsh environmental conditions and is transported from place to place by being loaded on a flatbed trailer.”

To specify that the ordinance does not apply to semi-trailers pulled by trucks, nor trailer homes, the definition goes on to state, “All trailers required to be titled and licensed in order to be towed on a highway are exempt from this definition. Structures designed for human occupancy according to HUD’s standards are exempt from this definition.”

The ordinance allows for temporary placement of PSCs within all zoning districts, and it allows for permanent placement in commercial, airport, and industrial zoning districts.

For temporary placement, if on private property, PSCs are allowed with a city-issued building or grading permit. They are allowed on city property or in the public right-of-way as part of an active construction site with city engineer approval. If no construction is involved, one PSC is allowed for up to 72 hours on a public street or up to 30 days on private property, with the zoning administrator’s approval.

For temporary use, one container per 1,200 square feet of building area would be allowed, up to three containers.

Permanent placement of PSCs would be allowed in the commercial, industrial, or airport zoning districts, but they must comply with: building and related code requirements; zoning district standards for setback, height, lot coverage, etc.; and placed so that they are the same distance to the street as the main building. The ordinance adds the exemption that for parcels bounded by two or more streets, this requirement would only apply to one side of the property, with the building setback governing the remaining sides. A maximum of two PSCs are allowed to be stacked vertically, and the ordinance states, “The containers shall be maintained at all times from the all types of visible deterioration such as rusting, peeling paint, graffiti, etc. The owner of the Portable Storage Container shall be responsible for its maintenance.”

Businesses that deal in the sale or rental of the PSCs would be exempt from the regulations, as their inventory is constantly being moved; contractors who own PSCs as part of the business equipment that are stored from time to time at the place of business would also be exempt; and exemptions would also apply to PSCs that are used in connection with a public emergency as declared by public safety personnel.

The ordinance also lays out options for how to deal with nonconforming PSCs. In the commercial, industrial, and airport districts, the options range from requiring those out of compliance to be moved by a certain date, to allowing those containers already placed to remain but unable to be modified in any regard unless in compliance with the standards.

For nonconforming PSCs, once the ordinance is adopted, they would be required to comply with the ordinance within a year.

Councilman Larry Klarenbeek made a motion to approve the first reading and set the public hearing for Oct. 15, which was seconded by Councilman George Martin and unanimously approved without further discussion. Councilman Dan Hodgs and Councilwoman Pam Jacobs were absent.

The public hearing for and second reading of the ordinance is set for Oct. 15, and if approved, the ordinance would be published Oct. 19 and become effective Nov. 8.

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