Sherman considers shipping container ordinance

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
A series of shipping containers sit beside a business in Sherman along U.S. Highway 82. The city of Sherman is considering an ordinance change that would allow for use of these containers for storage on a temporary basis only.

Sherman is considering a series of changes that could limit the use of shipping containers as outside storage. The City Council recently gave approval for staff to consider ordinance changes that would allow for the use of shipping containers only on a temporary basis.

The changes come amid recent discussions by the council and city staff regarding businesses that have used outdoor space, including parking lots for outdoor displays or storage. This has become a particular issue along high-traffic areas, including the U.S. Highway 75 corridor and its intersection with U.S. Highway 82.

Under the current ordinance, shipping containers are allowed under a specific use permit. Under the proposed changes, this would be transitioned to being under a temporary use permit, which would allow for the use for a limited time frame. After the time has elapsed, the user would need to remove the container or risk violating city code.

Council Member Willie Steele asked if the temporary use permit could be renewed indefinitely. An applicant could repeatedly request extensions, however these requests would go to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission who would consider the merits, Sherman Director of Development Services Rob Rae said.

Despite some concerns, Steele ultimately voiced his support for the initiative.

"I think this is a real problem and I've brought it up many times," he said. "Of all the things we've seen today, I think this one falls short, but I am willing to see where it goes."

The topic of outdoor storage has been a recurring one for the city over the past three months. The Planning and Zoning Commission have received requests related to screening efforts by both Lowes and Tractor Supply Co. in recent months.

In some cases, these outdoor displays have become an eyesore, Steele said, as they have been placed directly in the parking lots of some businesses or in full view of neighboring roadways.

"Today they had unloaded trucks right along the side of building and lumber is up 12-feet high with two-by-fours and sheetrock. It looks like crap," Steele said, without naming which business he was referring to.

The suggested ordinance changes also included an increase in fines for violations that would bring the city in line with state maximums. City officials said this could also assist the city in encouraging  these businesses to stay within code.