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Council approves all items on Tuesday's agenda

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in News

2015 City Hall SmallIN NEWS
Deer Park City Council passed all items on its regular agenda Tuesday night. The meeting included action on a joint public hearing regarding storage containers, the Deer Park Nature Preserve and raising the monthly drainage fee.

At Tuesday’s Deer Park City Council meeting, council unanimously all items on its agenda, including an approval to raise the monthly storm water fee from $1.45 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) to $1.60. This new rate will become effective Nov. 1, 2017, and collections of the new rate will begin with the December 2017 water bills.

Council also approved a zoning ordinance amendment to allow the use of external shipping containers under certain conditions in the General Commercial Zoning District. This amendment would allow for the temporary use of outdoor storage containers in the General Commercial Zoning District with a Special Use Permit under certain qualifying conditions.

Daniel Morales, director of public affairs for WalMart, said the city allowing the use of the storage containers would allow its customers to use the store’s layaway programs during the holiday shopping season.

“We’ve been working with the (city) to ensure we are complying and have rules we can follow to make sure we’re a good neighbor, serve our customers and at the same time operate under the parameters that have been set,” he said.

In March, Walmart representatives approached the city regarding storage solutions. Previously, the city’s zoning ordinance prohibits the use of shipping containers for external storage in a commercial zoning district. On occasion, the public works director has granted commercial businesses the ability to use one shipping container for external storage during the holiday shopping season. Usually, the storage unit would arrive no earlier than mid-October and was removed by mid-January.

However, during the 2015 shopping season, Wal-Mart used 30-40 shipping containers in support of its holiday layaway program. These were placed along the western and northern boundaries of their property. In early 2016, City staff informed Wal-Mart officials the shipping containers were not allowed by code, the 30-40 containers used during the 2015 Holiday Season needed to be removed, and the city’s zoning restrictions forbidding these shipping containers would be enforced during the 2016 season. Wal-Mart officials then complied by removing the containers, and did not bring them back last fall.

No one spoke against the amendment during the joint public hearing.

This amendment would allow for the temporary use of outdoor storage containers in the General Commercial Zoning District with a Special Use Permit under certain qualifying conditions, including:
a. The commercial use must be a minimum of 25 acres in size;
b. Shipping containers must be located behind the primary structure;
c. Shipping containers must be fenced and screened from public view along public rights-of-way by an opaque fence that is a minimum of eight feet in height, measured from the ground;
d. Shipping containers shall not be placed in required loading zones, parking areas, easements, internal street lanes, or fire lanes;
e. Shipping containers shall be placed only on cast in place concrete or asphalt surface;
f. Shipping containers shall not exceed 40 in number at any time;
g. Shipping containers shall not be stacked;

h. Shipping containers will be allowed for no more than 100 consecutive days, once a year, which time shall include mobilization and demobilization. The 100 days begins on delivery of first container and ends on removal of the last container.

i. Shipping container placement must meet all applicable permanent construction setback requirements of city codes.

In other business, council also approved agreements with the Crime Control and Prevention and Fire Control and Emergency Medical Services districts. Each year, city council and both districts call for an adding an additional year to the agreements, calling for the city to provide for personnel, vehicles, facilities, equipment and investments.

Council also approved a resolution to enter an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for the construction, maintenance, and operation of safety lighting systems along Highway 225.