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P&Z may recommend banning of shipping containers for use in residential buildings

The Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Jackson discussed further the use of steel shipping containers as building material at its November meeting, deciding not to allow them as residential buildings.

“I have done a very unscientific survey, and I’ve talked to everybody in my life that I could have possibly spoken to,” Board Member Harry Dryer said. “I can’t find one single soul who is receptive to the idea of shipping containers being used for housing in the City of Jackson.”

The idea of having them be allowed in specially zoned areas away from other properties was floated, but it was deemed unnecessary for the City at this time.

“In a hundred years, if we’re having a population problem and we need to have hundreds of people in a 40-foot area, then my grandkids can worry about that,” Board Member Tony Koeller said. “But right now we don’t have a population [problem].”

Commission members were also against shipping containers being used as permanent structures for offices or other commercial businesses, saying they were against any occupied uses of the containers.

“The architecture just doesn’t fit with what we have here in town,” Chairman Mike Seabaugh said. “Aesthetically, they don’t fit with anything we have here in town.”

For temporary use of the structures, the Commission agreed on one-year permits for commercial use and six-month permits for residential use, with possible extensions.

The Commission specified that residents must place them in their driveways, not in their yards. For aesthetic and enforcement purposes, these containers will have to be a consistent color and include a sign that states who owns the container. These new regulations would also apply to Pods and large dumpsters.

There are currently stores that use the containers for seasonal storage, including Jackson Walmart. The Commission has decided to allow shipping containers to continue to be in certain commercial areas, but they have to be behind the face of the building.

In other action, the Commission has not agreed upon a minimum square foot requirement for houses, to address the issue of small homes. Currently, the minimum dwelling size in the code is 120 square feet. The commission agreed that needs to be changed.

A draft will now be written for a potential amendment to the zoning code, and it will be presented at the next Planning and Zoning meeting for review.

“Then we come together and start picking it apart — how else can this be interpreted or how can this be a loophole,” Janet Sanders, building and planning superintendent, said. “Then you try to fix the loopholes that you find. It’s a long process, but it’s kind of fun too.”

The next meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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