Palmetto tightens new portable storage container ordinance

PALMETTO -- After more than a year of assuring residents they wouldn't be negatively affected by a new portable storage container ordinance, city commissioners unanimouslypassed the new law Monday.

For months, commissioners debated the definition and size of a portable storage container for an ordinance designed to keep with the city's beautification goals.

The ordinance is to ensure residents and businesses alike no longer abuse the term "portable" by renting large storage containers and leaving them in place on a perpetual basis.

Commissioners debated the language one last time at a public hearing in December in outlining the containers they were targeting. Final modifications stuck after Ward 2 Commissioner Tambra Varnadore insisted on tightening the language one more time "because it's still too broad."

Commissioners wanted to ensure the ordinance would not affect backyard sheds, dog houses or playhouses.

The new ordinance at first referenced "shed-like" structures, but the term was removed in the final draft, defining a portable storage container as "any container (including a shipping or cargo container), storage unit or other portable container other than an accessory building or shed."

Sheds, or other tied-down accessory buildings, require a building permit. All storage units with a permit are exempt from the ordinance.

Size matters when it comes to the concern of the commissioners, who said previous ordinance drafts would have included everything from a dog house to a child's playhouse. To exempt those structures, the commissioners settled on 7 feet long, 7 feet wide and 5 feet high as a minimum standard. Anything smaller is not considered a portable storage container and anything over 10 feet high, 24 feet long and 10 feet wide is not allowed.

All other size containers falling in the middle of those diameters are considered a portable storage container subject to new restrictions. They must be set back at least 5 feet from property lines, cannot interfere with drainage systems, obstruct building access or block visibility of roadways. The ordinance allows one portable storage container for no more than 60 consecutive days twice per calendar year.

The rules apply for residential and commercial zones, however, active construction sites are exempted during construction, but containers must be removed within 14 days of the construction permit's closure. Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitternote>