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Minocqua slaps moratorium on shipping containers


MINOCQUA – The Minocqua town board has enacted a six-month moratorium on the placement of portable shipping containers anywhere in the township, except when used for construction projects or for moving purposes.

Action came Tuesday after the board reviewed a draft proposal by Oneida County that would permit such containers in residential areas, albeit with regulations. But town board members didn’t believe the proposed county ordinance adequately protects the interests of Minocqua homeowners.

“It’s important for us to do something right now,” said town chairman Mark Hartzheim, in urging the moratorium’s adoption. Sue Heil’s motion to do just that received unanimous consent. The measure allows such containers for moving household items, but not on site for longer than 14 days.

The county has fielded a number of complaints and other inquires by the public, as well as from town boards, about the spread of shipping containers in the county. Many consider them unsightly when placed near homes. While they differ in size, they include large metal containers typically used on ocean going ships.

Hartzheim said even new ones can be gaudy with bright paint and large lettering. He said they devalue property values of nearby residences. There are concerns that people could turn them into dwellings, such as for hunting shacks.

Businesses have sprung up in Oneida County and neighboring counties, specifically selling shipping containers and PODS for permanent storage, as well as renting them out. Used shipping containers or smaller ones are cheaper than building a stick-built shed or garage, Hartzheim noted.

Hartzheim told the two county board representatives in attendance that the county should allow individual towns to carve out exceptions to any final county ordinance. More populated towns such as Minocqua have different standards in that regard than perhaps lesser populated towns, he said. Arbor Vitae town board has also enacted a six-month moratorium on those containers.

The board agreed to have the chairman inform the county that it remains opposed to shipping containers and the like from being allowed in residential districts.

The county planning and development committee has scheduled a Dec. 15 public hearing on the proposed ordinance. In no case could containers be stacked upon one another or used as dwellings, either for humans or animals, the proposal says.

Under the county proposal, up to two shipping containers used for storage would be allowed in all zoning districts, if for less than 45 days. Likewise, two containers could be placed at a construction site for the duration of the project.

Also, the county proposal says a zoning permit would be needed for placing a single shipping container used for storage for more than 45 days in District 2 Single Family, District 3 Multiple Family, District 5 Recreational, District 6 Business B-1, District 7 Business B-2, and District 15 Rural Residential.

Also, up to five shipping containers used for storage would be allowed with a permit in other districts, notably Forestry, Residential and Farming, Manufacturing & Industrial, and General Use.

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