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Colby bans shipping containers, with exceptions

Colby bans shipping containers, with exceptions Colby bans shipping containers, with exceptions

Shipping containers will no longer be allowed in any residential area in the city of Colby — unless it’s on a short-term basis for a permitted purpose — according to a new ordinance adopted last week.

The two-page ordinance approved by the city council at its Dec. 3 meeting prohibits the use of shipping containers, or “other similar conveyance,” for storage or residential use. Other prohibited containers include semi-trailers, truck bodies and mobile offices.

Exceptions will be made for contractors during construction projects and for portable storage containers (aka PODs) used while a family or business is in the process of moving. For moving exceptions, the term will be limited to 90 days, unless additional time is approved by the director of public works.

Shipping containers and other similar structures will be allowed on a permanent basis within the city’s general industrial district, where they can be used as an accessory to the principal building. They will not be allowed on vacant lots.

Property owners in the industrial zone must still get a permit from the DPW before placing a shipping container on their property, and it must abide by setback requirements and other conditions set by the DPW.

City clerk Connie Gurtner said the council still needs to set the permit fee by passing a resolution.

The containers can only be placed in a “rear yard” and must be placed on a concrete or asphalt pad.

If a shipping container falls into disrepair or becomes a public nuisance, the city may order it removed at the expense of the owner.

Last month, elected officials instructed DPW Harland Higley to stop issuing permits for any further shipping containers after two of them were moved into the city, including one in a residential neighborhood.

Under the newly adopted ordinance, those containers will be grandfathered in, but they are ever removed, they cannot be replaced. This also applies if the property ownership changes hands.

Other business

_ The council approved a final payment of $6,432 to Champion Tank for repair work done on the north water tower.

_ The council approved a recommendation from the Colby-Abbotsford police commission to switch to a higher-deductible health insurance plan, with officers expected to pay the first $250 of a single


plan deductible and the first $500 for a family plan.

_ The council approved a renewal of the police department’s dental insurance plan through Delta Dental, for a total monthly premium cost of $623, a zero percent increase from 2019.

_ At the recommendation of the personnel committee, the council approved a 69-cent hourly raise for all city employees in 2020. That amount came from applying the increase in the Consumer Price Index (2.08 percent) to the total pool of workers’ salaries, plus $2,400 in health insurance savings.

_ The council approved a renewal of the city’s health insurance plan for 2020, with a zero percent increase in premiums. The city saved $4,800 as a result of the premiums staying flat, with half of that applied to wage increases.

_ The council approved a motion to close TIF district 2 in 2020 in a way that will allow the city to collect $58,000 in additional property taxes while also lowering the mil rate for property owners.

_ The council appointed election inspectors for 2020. Chief inspectors include: Joanne Bartnik, Lee Kaschinska, Julie Johnson, Charlotte Haines, Janet Gurtner and Sharon Rachu. Election workers include Duane Webb, Karen Winkler, Bev Fecker, Donna Klemke, Henry Sanchez, Michelle Albrecht, Nancy O’Brien, Hannah Gurtner, Tammy Solberg and Bonnie Hoernke.

_ Gurtner said she plans on sending out property tax bills by Dec. 13. She noted that tax rates went up in both Clark and Marathon county, but the lottery tax credit also went up, which should mitigate the rate increases.

_ DPW Higley said a lot of residents pushed snow out into the streets after the most recent snow storms. He said city’s plow truck drivers will just push the snow back off the street, but he also pointed out that residents can be issued a citation for moving snow onto the street.

_ City engineer Mike Voss of MSA Professional Services said the company that provided a nitrate analyzer for two of the city’s wells has been given a Dec. 13 deadline for re-calibrating correctly, or it will have to buy the analyzer back from the city. Voss said the city will also be petitioning the DNR to allow the city to take quarterly nitrate samples instead of using the continuous analyzer.

_ The council renewed its annual audit contract with Johnson Block for 2019, with an increase from $16,125 to $17,000.

_ The council approved $25 chamber of commerce gift certificates for city employees as Christmas gifts.