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Wasatch County

Heber City drops restriction of shipping containers in some areas

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Heber City lifted its restriction of shipping containers in some zones after not enforcing it for six months. In the future, new regulations require them to be painted or screened from view from the street.

Shipping containers are an essential storage solution to some and an eyesore to others. The Heber City Council decided yesterday to loosen its rules on where they’re allowed, siding with local businesses that rely on them.

Heber City previously prohibited shipping containers in its commercial, mixed-use, manufacturing and industrial zones. But the city didn’t enforce that ban during the past half year while the planning commission reviewed that part of the city’s code.

The city council decided at its Tuesday meeting to lift the restriction and replace it with regulations. Now, shipping containers will be allowed in those zones, but landowners must receive a permit. The containers must also be painted to match the primary building on the property or screened from view from the street.

Councilmember Rachel Kahler was one of four council members who supported the ordinance, which allows the containers under conditional use permits or temporary use permits. She said the pros outweigh the cons, and she wasn’t aware of many people who wanted them gone.

“I just want to point out that this whole thing started because of a complaint,” she said, “and the property owner sold this month. I want to make sure that we're protecting business owners.”

She said one business reported having around $250,000 worth of product in containers, which would cost about $1 million to move.

Councilmember Ryan Stack said he didn’t mind allowing containers in industrial and manufacturing zones but voted against the ordinance. He said visually, they don’t fit the brand Heber City is working to establish in commercial and mixed-use areas.

“I just don't see a place for shipping containers and the aesthetic that they portray,” Stack said. I” would like to ask the council to consider trying to strike some middle ground, so these are not immediately adjacent to a residence or within a line of sight of a residence, or whatever sort of setbacks can be implemented to protect the folks who live in transitional areas.”

In the end, the council only added one change to what the planning commission recommended, that owners can only store objects related to their businesses.

Conditional use permits will allow the containers permanently, and temporary use permits will last up to 90 days.

City Planner Jamie Baron said those who already have shipping containers will need to get permits to keep them. They may have to paint them or build walls to screen them from view to comply with the ordinance.

The city also approved its tentative 2023 budget in the meeting. It includes funding to replace water and sewer lines and for potential upgrades to city roads.

Visit this link for a video recording of the meeting.