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Council considers storage facility ordinance

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

SPICELAND — Town council members are considering a local ordinance that would make it illegal to use shipping containers or semi-trailers as an accessory building, storage facility or living quarters inside town limits.

The proposed ordinance was introduced at the council’s March 7 meeting and discussed briefly before being tabled, but it is expected to be on the agenda when the council next meets at 6 p.m. April 4 in the conference room of the city building, 130 E. Main St.

Council president Darrin Jacobs said he was introducing the idea for the council’s consideration to protect the public health and safety as well as the aesthetic quality of the town.

The ordinance does allow for temporary exceptions to the prohibition in that it states contractors may use shipping containers or semi-trailers for the temporary housing of equipment and materials during a construction project, provided they have a valid building permit.

Jacobs said there are a couple businesses that would be in violation of the ordinance if it were already in place.

He noted that the Taste of India restaurant/truck stop at 5809 S. Ind. 3 has been using a semi-trailer for storage for “quite a while,” and that Mr. Fuel, another truck stop located at 140 Holwager Drive, has been using two shipping containers for storage that have also been there for a considerable length of time.

“In my opinion, if a business or an individual needs storage, then they should have a properly built and approved structure for that,” Jacobs said.

Penalties for violating the measure, if it is eventually passed, include a fine not to exceed $2,500 for a first violation and a fine not to exceed $7,500 for a second or subsequent violation.

In other news, the council voted to proceed with hiring a firm to conduct an income survey of the community as part of the initial process associated with applying for a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) needed for a water distribution system improvement project.

At its February meeting, the council heard from Kathleen Weissenberger of KW Consultants. She told the council Community Block Development Grants are available through OCRA for a variety of projects, but many of them require a community’s low to moderate income level be at least 51 percent.

At its most recent meeting, the council voted to hire KW Consultants to canvas the community and ask residents to complete a short survey regarding the respondent’s income level as well as a few other details required by OCRA as part of the grant application process.

The goal is to find the funds needed to modernize the town’s aging water distribution system, which has been increasingly prone to water main breaks and leaks in recent years.

Prior to the start of the income survey process, town residents will be alerted to the fact someone will be visiting homes throughout the town to collect data.