Planners discuss use of cargo containers as structures

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Nov 13, 2013 - 12:01 PM

The Gloucester Planning Commission discussed the use of cargo containers as structures in the county last Thursday night, but did not come to final recommendations to take the matter to a public hearing.

The issue has been on the agenda—and led to staff reports and discussion—for the last several commission meetings.

Anne Ducey-Ortiz, director of planning and zoning, said that staff is trying to balance "the ability to use one’s property while protecting the concerns of how such uses may impact property values and the county’s commercial corridors." Staff and commission members said they are seeing an increasing number of the cargo containers throughout the county.

Ducey-Ortiz said that the containers, typically used in shipping freight, are not considered structures under county code. However, she said that Gloucester Building Official Paul Koll has notified her that state building officials are considering amending the Uniform State Building Code to allow cargo containers to be exempt from USBC if they are used for storage only.

The containers already in the county cannot be considered as grandfathered, Ducey-Ortiz said, because they are not a legally permitted use at this time.

Staff has suggested four classifications of cargo containers: storage of freight, as an accessory structure, for a construction use, and for other uses.