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County Plan Commission tables proposal on shipping containers

Mar. 12—ANDERSON — A proposal to regulate the placement of shipping containers in Madison County has been tabled for 30 days.

The Madison County Plan Commission Tuesday heard two proposals from planning director Larry Strange.

The Commission will consider any potential changes at the April 9 meeting.

Strange said that currently the county prohibits the use of shipping containers and pods as an accessory structure.

That code went into effect in 2002.

The Planning Department staff recommended allowing the shipping containers, pods and trailers as a permanent structure but with several restrictions.

The accessory structures would be allowed on parcels of more than four acres with the units entirely behind the residential structure, on a gravel or concrete pad, screened by vegetation or a fence or enclosed in a building.

Containers on residential properties would require obtaining an improvement location permit, placing them behind the house, on a gravel or concrete pad and screened.

Strange said property owners that currently have a shipping container or pod would be allowed to keep the accessory structure if the conditions were met.

Plan Commission member Jerry Alexander asked how property owners would be able to comply with the gravel or concrete pad if the containers were already in place.

Strange said the Planning Department will work with people to get into compliance.

Alexander recommended the property owners request a variance from the gravel or concrete pad.

Lindsay Brown, a member of the Plan Commission, said people are already breaking the law because the containers are prohibited.

"Now they will be able to not comply with the revisions if we grant a variance," he said. "We don't know what contaminants might leak into the ground."

Property owner Jason Turner said he drove a truck for a living and never transported hazardous materials in a shipping container.

He said chemicals are transported in tankers that are not sold to the public.

Turner said the shipping container has been on his property for three years and is more secure than a wooden shed or pole barn.

There are hundreds of containers in Madison County, he said, and the Plan Commission should take a common sense approach to regulations.

Attorney Jonathan Cook, representing a company that sells and rents shipping containers said they support the option being considered by the Plan Commission.

"They should be treated the same as a mini-barn," Cook said.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.