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City Council to consider shipping container ordinance

By TRAVIS CRUM The Herald-DispatchMay 28, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Huntington City Council members will conduct the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday night seeking to limit the use of shipping containers in the city’s neighborhood districts.

The ordinance would limit using a shipping container as a structure for only commercial or industrial use. Shipping containers could not be remade into a home or apartment and would be barred completely from the city’s residential districts.

Also, shipping containers would only be used for storage in industrial districts unless they are used for construction purposes on a site with an active building permit.

City Council is moved to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday because City Hall was closed on Monday in recognition of Memorial Day.

City planner Shae Strait recommended defining and regulating shipping containers during a May 13 city council meeting.

However, city council members tabled the first reading of an ordinance because they feared it placed too many constraints on shipping container use.

Specifically, a coffee shop on 8th Street is building a patio out of a former shipping container frame, and city council members said they like how it looked.

Strait had recommended that shipping containers used for commercial reasons be remade to match existing structures in the surrounding neighborhood.

That would mean the coffee shop’s patio exterior walls could not be exposed and would need to be covered with brick.

Council member Alex Vence, the ordinance’s sponsor, asked that it be sent back to the city’s Planning and Zoning Committee for revision.

Back before the committee, Strait made changes that would satisfy council members’ request and also placed limits on how and where shipping containers could be used.

Among the changes is a requirement that shipping containers used for active construction sites not exceed 31 days and not more than twice a year.

The ordinance also defines shipping containers as a “transport storage unit of metal construction.”

Strait said the definition was written more broadly than other cities he had researched, which made references to shipping containers made of steel.

“A lot of other cities defined it as steel, but we went with metal,” he said. “We thought about what if technology changes in the future and it needs to become something like a special alloy?”

Also during Tuesday night’s meeting, city council members will vote on a resolution to enter into a contract for construction of a retaining wall along Foster Road and McCoy Road.

They will also hear the first reading of an ordinance allowing the Huntington Police Department to be reimbursed for drug trafficking investigations with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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