Storage containers are facing an uncertain future as town officials weigh if additional regulations are needed for use on residential property.
A few months ago, Jeffery Pine, a code enforcement officer for New Scotland, received the first complaint in his 16-year tenure about a storage container on someone’s property. He estimated there were around “a couple dozen” placed across the town. Several are used for commercial purposes, according to Pine, but Town Board members have noticed these portable containers popping up.
“If you start looking, there are quite a few of these shipping containers scattered already throughout the town being used for storage,” Town Supervisor Thomas Dolin said Wednesday, Jan. 14. “Some of them aren’t very obvious, you have to look for them, but others are obvious and ugly.”
The town Zoning Board of Appeals in October addressed an administrative appeal against a building permit issued for a storage container to be kept on a Koonz Road residential property. A neighbor claimed the metal storage container should not have received a permit, because it did not fit the town’s definition of an accessory structure.
The metal container held construction materials while the property owner’s home was built, but once the house was completed the homeowner was granted a permit to keep it as an accessory structure.
The applicant withdrew their appeal, according to the Oct. 28 meeting minutes, but the ZBA urged the Town Board to address the issue.
“It gets to be very complicated, because some of them are dressed up with siding and they look like a normal shed,” said Dolin. “The problem is if they are just thrown out in the back or a side yard they can be esthetically offensive in my opinion.”
John Dearstyne also emailed the Town Board before its Jan. 14 meeting over his concern about truck bodies and trailers being used as storage containers on properties.
New Scotland’s zoning law definition for an accessory structure is rather vague and likely encompasses a variety of storage containers. Town code essentially defines accessory structure as being “incidental” to the main building and not attached to it, along with being at least 10 feet from the primary building.
Town Board members reached a general consensus to look into what amendments should be made to the town’s zoning law. Board member Patricia Snyder believed the spread of such containers wasn’t likely contemplated when the law was written.
“It is something we absolutely have to look at,” board member Dan Mackay said, “in addition to putting it on a fast track, particularly if there’s a concern” more property owners pursue a similar type of storage and establish a precedent.
Sal Abrams, a resident of Route 85A, warned the board to consider the various situations storage containers are used.
“There are a lot of considerations that have to be evaluated,” said Abrams.