In recent weeks, several towns around the United States have begun to limit the use of portable storage containers in front yards and driveways, by requiring residents to get permits, limiting the time period the containers can be used, and in some cases, banning their use. The Zeeland, Michigan City Council is looking at the possibility of banning the use of utility trailers in front yards and driveways for more than 48 hours at a time. In Morris Township, New Jersey, the Township Committee is considering banning PODS (portable on-demand storage) containers unless the homeowner first obtains a permit for their use. The Blue Springs, Missouri Planning Commission has already voted to ban the use of portable storage containers in front yards.
"Some of our lots are only 50 to 60 feet wide," City zoning administrator Art Grimes, of Zeeland, told the Holland Sentinel on Tuesday. "If someone fills the whole lot with a large cargo trailer and [a neighbor] looks out their front window, all you can see is trailer," he continued.
The Zeeland City Council was considering the request to make it illegal to park the storage trailers in front yard setbacks or driveways for more than 48 hours at the request of the Zeeland Planning Commission. Many community members, however, protested the change in city ordinances vociferously, and the council deadlocked at 3-3. "This doesn't make sense," said council member Al Dannenberg, also speaking to the Sentinel. "This is just beating up on someone that doesn't need to be beat up, and I'm not going to support it."
The Morris Township Committee, in New Jersey, had similar concerns, but they were targeting PODS containers rather than storage trailers. Most residents who use PODS containers rent them for a short period of time and leave the containers in their driveways while they are being packed. But several New Jersey towns have restricted their use after observing that some residents keep the containers for long periods of time. Committeeman Ron Goldberg told the Daily Record that some residents in Morris Township are "abusing" the storage containers. "They shouldn't be there for six to eight months," he argued.
The new ordinance being considered in Morris Township would require residents to get a $20 permit if they wish to use a PODS container. The container size would also be limited, to 1,280 cubic feet. But the permit would be good for 30 days. Once the 30 days were up, homeowners might be charged $100/day in penalties for keeping the containers in place.
In Blue Springs, Missouri, early this February the Blue Springs Planning Committee voted to prohibit the use of wheeled trailers or semi-trailers, portable storage containers, and roll-off trash containers as permanent storage containers in front yards. However, Blue Springs residents who are already using such containers can continue to do so. Bob McDonald, the attorney for Blue Springs, told the Independence Examiner that those residents would be grandfathered into the new law as exceptions. The new law was expected to be voted on by the Blue Springs city council in the near future.