HOISINGTON — City council members discussed the pros and cons of allowing shipping containers to be set at residential and or business properties at its regular meeting Monday night.
A century ago, some Missouri Pacific Railroad workers living and working in Hoisington resided close to the railyard and roundhouse in “boxcar houses,” similar to today’s shipping container conversions. City ordinances do not allow shipping containers to be present at either commercial or residential properties. At the Jan. 14 meeting, council members discussed the possibility of adopting an ordinance that would allow for the use of such portable structures under certain circumstances, and directed City Manager Jonathan Mitchell to gather more information. He reached out to the city of Ellsworth, which last year adopted an ordinance allowing for their use. The discussion resumed.
While some council members initially showed interest, concern over aesthetics overshadowed the potential benefits. Considered a low-cost alternative for more traditional wooden sheds or other stick-built accessory buildings, some council members felt the units could provide some homeowners much needed storage. Others worried the units could block views, and a question of how or if the units could be taxed compared to accessory buildings had some reconsidering their initial openness to the proposal.
“If we don’t set some ground rules now, they’re going to start popping up everywhere,” said Chris Smith, councilmember for Ward 4.
Some support was expressed for allowing them for business use in the business district, but not enough for members to urge Mitchell to pursue having a draft created. He asked for an indication of support, and Mayor Dalton Popp and five members were in favor of leaving the current ordinance as is. They were Becky Steiner, Ward 1, Jim Morris, Ward 3, Smith and Carol Nather and Darren Reinert, both of Ward 2.