Shipping containers still a hard ‘no’

County zoning doesn’t allow units, despite issue with Town of Waukechon
By: 
Kevin Passon
Editor-in-chief

Make no mistake about it. Placing a shipping container on your property and using it as a storage unit is not allowed under Shawano County zoning rules.

Many residents are finding that out the hard way.

Jessica Van Buren, zoning administrator, said when officials are notified of a resident with a shipping container on their property, a letter is sent to the homeowner giving them 30-60 days to remove it or face a daily fine.

Recently, it was brought to officials’ attention that Town of Waukechon officials were telling residents it was OK to have the shipping containers.

“They’re not allowed whatsoever,” Van Buren told members of the Shawano County Planning, Development and Zoning Committee on June 5.

Through no fault of their own, town residents were given incorrect information, so Van Buren devised a compromise for them.

“We made that caveat that if you get a permit, put siding on it and trusses and a roof (the container can stay for up to one year),” she said.

Permits will be good for one year and cannot be renewed.

This exception is for Town of Waukechon residents only. All others must remove shipping containers within the 30-60 days.

“The shipping containers are not even mentioned in that area of the ordinance. They are not allowed there whatsoever,” Van Buren said. “Everybody else has to get rid of them completely. We are allowing the Town of Waukechon because of the nature of the fact that a couple of the town board members went ahead and told people it’s OK. It’s not OK. They can’t supersede county zoning when they’re under county zoning. They have no authority to do so.”

Van Buren also sent a letter to the town informing officials of the issue and reiterating that shipping containers are illegal.

She said the rules about shipping containers only affect those residents in towns that are under the county’s zoning jurisdiction.

Towns included under Shawano County zoning ordinance jurisdiction are the towns of Angelica, Aniwa, Birnamwood, Fairbanks, Germania, Grant, Green Valley, Herman, Maple Grove, Morris, Navarino, Red Springs, Seneca, Washington, Waukechon and Wittenberg.

Towns not a part of Shawano County zoning jurisdiction are Almon, Bartelme, Belle Plaine, Hartland, Hutchins, Lessor, Pella, Richmond and Wescott.

This does not affect any city or village residents in the county, as those municipalities will have their own rules.

Residents who do not remove the shipping containers — old semi-trailers are in this same category — can be fined up to $500 each day the containers remains on the property.

“People do not want shipping containers,” Van Buren said. “They do not want to be looking at them, and we get complaints on them all the time.”

kpasson@newmedia-wi.com