City ready to move on portable shipping containers

At long last, this Thursday at City Hall, Hays commissioners will be voting on modifications to ordinance No. 3749 on the use of portable shipping containers by businesses at specified commercial and industrial zoned locations.

The commissioners were made aware of the need for business to be able to utilize these cost effective, safe and secure storage facilities on a long term basis back in January of this year.  (I had previously thought it was October but that was when I received notice from the P.I.E. office that I could not have these on my property though zoned I-2 “heavy industrial”). I had personally contacted nearly 100 business owners on this and, although they did not all personally have the need for such facilities, most had no idea this ordinance was in place and thought it was rather a short sighted rule that could have a negative effect on business growth and needed changed. The ordinance seemed to be solely based on aesthetics and had little to no consideration given to business which is what fuels our economy. That being said, myself and a number of other business owners got together and decided this needed addressed. It has taken a total of eight long months to get to where we are at now so this change comes with much thought invested by all parties.

We as business owners agreed that number one, business should be allowed to utilize these facilities on a long term basis. We also agreed that since aesthetics seemed to be the primary concern, that we would be willing to remove all signage and paint these shipping containers a color that would blend in with the existing structures and also agreed that they should be located to the rear of our property. After presenting a proposal to the commissioners conceding to these conditions, they decided that this was a planning commission issue so a group of us presented the same information to our planning commission who overwhelmingly agreed with their only concern that they not be stacked, which we also agreed to (Thank you very much to the planning commission for their insight, thoughtfulness and expedience! Only one meeting!). That took from January to June! We again presented the findings of the planning commission to the city commission.

Now it is August. As far as we are concerned, the commissioners have all given us the nod that they are going to vote yes to an exemption to ordinance No. 3749 to allow long term business use of shipping containers as storage facilities within the parameters previously mentioned at the next meeting scheduled for this Thursday evening. Only one commissioner was somewhat argumentative over this change but seems to have settled down a bit now. We as business owners are by and large, very pleased with this anticipated outcome and would like to thank not only the City of Hays Planning Commission and the City of Hays Commissioners but also would like to extend a thank you to Jesse Rohr, Superintendent of Planning and Enforcement, for his informative presentation on this matter. We would also like to thank Toby Dougherty, City Manager, as well for seemingly remaining at least neutral so we could move forward with this upgrade to the ordinance. Last but not least, a personal thank you to all the business owners for their feedback and support on this much needed change.

I believe that city government and local business can work in harmony when all parties are willing to become mutually concerned about not only the welfare of each other but the promoting of business growth which again, fuels our local economy and provides jobs as well as taxes for city use. I believe we all want an attractive city but we cannot pass or allow to stand, ordinances that are prohibitive to healthy business growth. It’s just not a good idea.

Thank you again to all who participated in promoting this change!

Additional conditions for exemption to ordinance No. 3749: No plumbing of water or sewer; must be on side or rear lot, not between street frontage and existing structure; cannot be the primary structure, must be secondary to existing; cannot be used for secondary rental. Must be owned or rented by business/land owner or lessee; must purchase a permit to locate; must be painted within 60 days of locate; cannot be placed within 100 feet of bordering residential areas; allowed as long term on I-1, I-2 and C-2 zoned lots; fire inspections allowed.

Scott Simpson, d.b.a. Best Radiator, Hays

Click HERE for a complete agenda for Thursday’s Hays City Commission meeting.