The discussion on open storage continued last week at the planning and zoning commission meeting.

City officials have been working to update the ordinance after a broader review revealed that some of the laws regarding open storage conflicted.

Since then, the primary goal has been to define and clarify the ordinance as it’s applicable in each zoning district.

City Attorney Tim Melenbrink said the new ordinance will apply everywhere except in industrial districts, as it’s expected that they will have some open storage.

Business districts will have to adhere to guidelines for the outdoor display of goods or merchandise.

Commission members requested excluding political entities with outdoor storage, such as schools and emergency services with outdoor storage.

Police Chief Norman Brune said officers don’t immediately issue a citation just because a complaint is made. Typically, the resident is contacted, made aware of the ordinance and given a certain time frame to resolve the issue.

Current Ordinance

Now, one ordinance defines open storage as “storage of material or goods on the ground outside of a building.” Other ordinances regarding open storage prohibit specific items from being stored in yards or vehicles.

The city also bans open storage of inoperable or unlicensed vehicles or other vehicles deemed by the city to constitute a public safety hazard. Storage is permitted if the vehicle is in a locked building or fenced area and not visible from adjacent public or private property, or if it is at a licensed facility such as a salvage yard.

Under the current verbiage, businesses that leave merchandise out overnight are in violation of the open storage ordinance, Melenbrink noted.

A draft ordinance is expected to be brought before the commission in February.