The city is a step closer to clarifying its regulations on open storage in residential, industrial and business districts in the city limits.
The planning and zoning commission Monday night got the first look at a draft definition of open storage that addresses many types of complaints received by the city.
City Attorney Tim Melenbrink said the primary goal is to define open storage and remove conflicting definitions from the individual zoning district regulations.
The new definition will be included in the city’s supplemental regulations, which apply to all zoning districts unless noted otherwise.
Earlier this month, Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder said the ordinances conflict or aren’t clear, which makes it difficult for police to enforce and the city to handle complaints.
Union Police Chief Norman Brune said he has some suggestions for the new ordinance’s verbiage, but that the new language is better.
Lt. Andrew Parker with the Union Police Department said officers address open storage violations frequently. If officers see a violation they will address it or relay it to the patrol officer who is assigned to handle those violations.
Currently, one city 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, such as household items, appliances, building materials, automotive or vehicle parts or any material in a front, rear or side yard or in a vehicle, whether it’s licensed or unlicensed.
The city 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.
“I think this covers a lot of the issues,” Melenbrink said, adding that he wants to take a second look at the B-2 business district, which may be allowed to have some sales items outside.
Melenbrink said businesses like Dickey Bub and Walmart have open storage outdoors that he wants to keep allowable in the B-2 district.
In the draft language, open storage is defined as open, uncovered and exterior storage of material, supplies or other goods that include both finished and waste by-products, junk vehicle parts, appliances, furniture, building demolition rubbish, boxed or bagged household waste or clothing or other similar items. It also would ban storing those items in any vehicle legally parked. It outlines exceptions and what is included “open,” such as porches, carports, breezeways, garages not equipped with a door, yards or similar areas visible from the public right of way.
The language has not been approved and will be updated based on feedback from Chief Brune and commissioners before the next meeting.