Commission discusses limiting storage pods

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published August 6, 2014

ROYAL OAK — After a brief discussion on storage pods and whether the city should limit how long they can stay in front of a home, the City Commission decided July 21 that an ordinance establishing a time limit is not necessary.

Instead, the commission decided to see if city staff can handle the issue using already-existing city laws.

“I’m not inclined to legislate when city staff is saying they can handle a problem,” said Commissioner Sharlan Douglas.

There was no formal action taken on the matter.

The discussion was placed on the agenda after a number of residents complained to commissioners about storage pods being left for weeks at neighboring homes.

“The issue is that we received multiple complaints from residents regarding these pods that just sit on property for extended periods of time,” said Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton. “And the city has an ordinance to deal with it, but apparently nothing is being done.”

Tim Thwing, the director of the Planning Department, said one issue is that city code enforcers didn’t know how to handle the issue.

Thwing said he has provided them some direction in approaching homeowners and working with them to ensure the pods are gone from the home in an appropriate time — much like the city does with Dumpsters.

He said the city already has the laws built into its zoning ordinance to prohibit the shelters.

“It’s our consensus that we have sufficient ordinances in place to deal with the moving pods,” Thwing said.

Zoning ordinances are “permissive,” Thwing said, meaning the language must include something in order for it to be permitted.

“It’s not the other way around, where you have to prohibit it,” Thwing said.

Mayor Jim Ellison said the city may want to consider in the future adding an ordinance that establishes a timeline.

“You’ve got to look at each circumstance separately, but I think we should have some sort of trigger so that people don’t put it in there and keep it forever,” Ellison said.