Cargo containers allowed in county for storage use on 10 acres or more

No need to establish primary use first

People wanting to use steel containers to store personal items or construction materials on their property no longer need to obtain primary use (a dwelling) first through Yavapai County Development Services Department.

The county Board of Supervisors, on Nov. 1, approved the use of what is commonly called cargo containers as accessory structures on minimum 10-acre parcels without the owner first needing to build a dwelling. They added language to the ordinance to require the property to be 10 acres or more, and the storage container to be 400 square feet or less in size.

Previously, the county did not allow for accessory uses or storage buildings on property before the owner showed primary use. Owners, however, still will need to acquire a zoning clearance permit.

“A zoning clearance permit will do two things,” said Steve Mauk, Development Services director. “Ensure that setbacks are being met, and then we refer it over to Flood Control and they will make sure it’s in compliance with their requirements.”

One such regulation may require the container to be elevated so the bottom is at or above the regulatory flood elevation if the container is on property in a high-risk flood hazard designation.

The county requires a 50-foot setback from property boundaries and temporary use not to exceed two years. Planning and Zoning Commissioners, who discussed changes on Sept. 21, also recommended removal of the container at the end of the construction permit time frame.

Supervisor Jack Smith agreed with the proposed changes, which haven’t been altered in 45 years. He said people should have the right to provide for storage on their property. “I see us evolving into what the public says is good for us.”

When Vice Chair Rowle Simmons suggested first trying out a new ordinance with a 36-acre minimum, Smith said his initial thought was two acres, but he was willing to go with the proposed 10-acre minimum.

Mauk said some counties don’t allow containers, but they also don’t enforce those ordinances.

“Drive around the county — is there any district that doesn’t have storage containers? Probably not,” said Supervisor Randy Garrison.

Supervisor Craig Brown opposed the recommendations, wanting a larger minimum acreage and greater setbacks. He also suggested waiting in order to hear from the public prior to approving the matter.

The supervisors approved the changes in a 3-1 vote, with Brown opposing and Simmons abstaining.

Simmons said following the meeting that he understood and struggled with both sides. His offer of a compromise went nowhere, he said.