Kershaw County Council passed first reading of an amendment to the ordinance addressing the use of shipping containers as accessory structures during its Jan. 22 meeting.
Currently, the ordinance prohibits the use of shipping containers as accessory buildings in any land use zone in the county. Under the amendment, shipping containers would be conditionally permitted in certain zones under the following conditions:
They cannot be used as principal use or structures
They shall not be located in front of any principal building or structure
They shall not be stacked
They shall be permanently screened from public view with an opaque divide not less than eight feet tall. Screening can be accomplished by the use of sight obscuring plant materials, earth berms, fences, walls, proper siting of disruptive elements, building placement or other design techniques approved by the planning official.
The number of accessory shipping containers shall not exceed one per lot, except where the building to which it is accessory exceeds one acre, then an additional shipping container may be established for each acret, or fraction thereof, provided they meet all other requirements.
They shall be properly maintained at all times.
Councilman Al Bozard, who has been working on this issue, started the discussion. He said that currently, the ordinance prohibits the use of shipping containers as buildings. His intent is to ease that restriction, he said.
“A container, as it stands, they’re not allowed in Kershaw County. If you have one on your property, it’s illegal -- I know of one case where the people had to move containers off their property because of a complaint from a neighbor.”
Councilman David Snodgrass noted that a number of his constituents have shipping containers, and he, too, wants to ensure they can use them as they see fit.
“I realize that while this is not an actively enforced ordinance, it is indeed an ordinance,” Snodgrass said. “What we have here before us is a little restrictive for my taste, but the beauty of county government is that we can change things. I believe this gets us on the right road to provide the liberty for homeowners to have these if that’s a decision they wish to make.”
However, Councilman Jimmy Jones stated his opposition to the ordinance, calling it complicated and unnecessary and said he would be introducing a separate ordinance completely removing any restrictions on shipping containers.
“I oppose the ordinance before us tonight,” he said. “My proposal will absolutely eliminate the ordinance. What we have now creates absolutely convoluted bureaucracy. This amendment, as is, brings a page and a half of regulations and will only bring more and more and more.”
Councilman Ben Connell noted that the ordinance presently appears to allow shipping containers as a primary residence but not as an accessory building. He, too, said he believed the ordinance as is currently presented is confusing, and possibly contradictory.
Council voted 5-2 to approve first reading, with Council Chair Julian Burns and Councilmen Bozard, Snodgrass, Tom Gardner, and Sammy Tucker Jr. voting in favor and Councilmen Jones and Ben Connell voting against the ordinance.
Kershaw County Council meets next at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 in the County Government Center, 515 Walnut St., Camden. Meetings are open to the public.