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4/23/2007
NCCo plan cracks down on portable storage

Proposed ordinance targets units left outside homes for months

By ANGIE BASIOUNY, The News Journal
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007

New Castle County Council is drafting legislation that would prevent residents from leaving portable storage units on their properties for months on end, aggravating neighbors and creating eyesores for the community.

The ordinance would limit the time to 30 days, or the duration of a building permit, for a temporary storage unit to be parked anywhere on the property.

Officials said the legislation has been in the works for at least a year in response to public complaints about units left in place for months at a time.

"It's taking advantage of a neighbor's good will," said Republican 2nd District Councilman Robert Weiner, who is sponsoring the legislation. "This ordinance will have the effect of being able to address those folks who want to abuse the privilege."

The proposed law does not apply to storage units parked on the street in front of a home. The county has no jurisdiction over roadways, so it cannot make or enforce laws regarding what is parked there.

James Edwards, a code enforcement supervisor, said temporary storage units are prohibited in residential areas under the Unified Development Code, which regulates land use. But the prohibition could use clarification because portable units didn't really exist when the code was created in 1997, he said.

"We started seeing them in the neighborhoods for three or four months at a time," Edwards said.

The county could not provide the number of citations it has issued for temporary-storage violations.

The legislation has the support of Jay Williams and Jim Coker, co-owners of a New Castle-based franchise of PODS, a business that provides portable storage units. Customers arrange for a unit to be delivered to their home or business, then call for the unit to be picked up and stored in the PODS warehouse.

The businessmen said they plan to inform their customers about the law when it is passed.

"We've tried to be good citizens since we started in this market," Coker said. "We've been working with Councilman Weiner on this, and we believe it is going to serve everybody well."

Council members are still tinkering with the ordinance and a companion piece of legislation to regulate temporary trash bins that hold more than 150 gallons.

That law also would limit the bins, such as the kind used to hold construction debris, to 30 days or the duration of a building permit in residential areas. In commercial areas, the bins would have to be placed at the farthest distance from adjacent homes.

Neither ordinance carries specific fines for violations.

Under the county's code-enforcement procedure, inspectors investigate complaints and issue citations to property owners found in violation. The owner has time to correct the problem or face court action. Any subsequent fine would be set by the court.
Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or abasiouny@delawareonline.com.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Want your voice heard on proposed legislation to regulate temporary portable storage units? Call New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner's office at 395-8362.

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