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Containing the containers

Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Ahh, the humble shipping container… that corrugated metal structure that adorns freight yards and ports everywhere; its usage by private citizens and companies for other purposes was one of the topics brought before the recent Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. To a creative individual, a cargo shipping container has practically limitless uses, from simple storage to a functional home. Their appearance is hardly pleasing on the eyes, but they’re made for storage, not for beauty contests.

In the last few years, the Land Use Office had been getting complaints and questions with regards to the usage of shipping containers, particularly in residential areas, typically for storage purposes.

While Land Use has issued several permits for their placement, whether it be permanent or temporary, another incident had popped up in the last few weeks or so when several containers were placed without permission, the owner declaring the containers to be his personal property. Given the ambiguity in the existing codes at the time, the owner’s actions were considered acceptable.

Zoning Ordinances did not directly reference shipping containers, though the Land Use office had established a preferred practice with regards to their use.

Namely, when the containers are being used for storage, they are to be treated like other accessory storage structures, such as sheds. This in turn requires permits and compliance with zoning ordinances such as setbacks. Containers used for this purpose are usually removed from their trailers and set on the ground on concrete blocks, much like a pre-built shed, with the intention of being there for the foreseeable future; though at other times, the container might only be there for the duration of a construction project.

For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 7/24/19