HUNTINGTON — Members of City Council voted Monday night to effectively kill an ordinance that sought to regulate the use of shipping containers in the city's neighborhood districts.
The ordinance would have prevented people from converting shipping containers into homes within residential districts. It would have also set standards on how shipping containers may be used for storage for businesses and construction sites, or for people using a portable container moving service at their homes.
During a regular meeting Monday, council member Mike Shockley motioned to send the ordinance back to the city administration indefinitely before it could undergo a second reading. That motion was then approved by a majority of council, killing the proposed ordinance before taking action on it.
The proposed ordinance had been met with hesitation from some council members who felt it was limiting the possibilities of using shipping containers to make into homes and other unconventional structures.
The ordinance was proposed by the city's Department of Planning and Development and was then approved by the city's Planning Commission. A version of the proposed ordinance had also cleared the city's Planning and Zoning Committee before it was returned to them following a May 13 City Council meeting.
Some city council members said the wording 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.
A new version of the ordinance was then drafted by City Planner Shae Strait and approved by the Planning and Zoning Committee a second time. The revision would have prevented using shipping containers for homes, but allow their use for business structures.
Strait said the proposed ordinance was an "under construction sign" until the city's Planning and Zoning office can develop regulations that would establish how the containers could be used in residential areas.
However, Council Chairman Mark Bates previously said the ordinance was "putting the cart before the horse" until the city could review and pass those regulations. Council members Carol Polan said she liked the look of shipping container-style homes and was researching how to build one for a vacation home.
Mayor Steve Williams said he approved of council members killing the ordinance.
"We pride ourselves in reviewing legislation, bringing it to your consideration and taking it through the committee process, particularly with this that's also going through the Planning Commission," Williams said. "I don't ever want us to bring something to you that's not ready for your affirmation and if ... it's clear there are issue that are unresolved, then it has to come back to us."
He said the administration would work on it and bring it back to council when there is a consensus behind it.
Council member Jennifer Wheeler, who serves as chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee, voted against postponing the ordinance indefinitely. She later commented that council members should trust the committees that review items brought before them because the committees have expertise in their given fields.
Council members approved a separate ordinance merely defining what a shipping container is within the city's planning and zoning ordinances.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.