City looking at ordinances on dumpsters, warehousing

By David Slone

WARSAW — Two proposed ordinances were discussed by the Warsaw Plan Commission Monday, with one on dumpsters being tabled and the other one on warehousing approved to be recommended to city council.

The dumpster ordinance presented states that no person shall place a dumpster or other commercial trash collection container on a public right-of-way without first obtaining a permit from the city planning office. Individual permits shall be required for each dumpster location.

It also states that “requests for dumpster permits shall state the name and address of the entity desiring the permit, the address and proposed site location of the dumpster, the timeframe in which the right-of-way will be occupied by the dumpster and a description of the safety markings and/or barricade placements to be used to limit access to the dumpster, and shall include written verification and proof of current insurance coverage sufficient to protect the city and its property from all damage or liability caused or created by the dumpster or its placement.”

The fee for a dumpster placement permit, under the ordinance, as originally presented, was $15 for one to 15 days and $25 for 16 to 30 days.

The ordinance states that no permit for dumpster placement can be extended beyond 30 days without the approval of the board of works.

Before the planners began discussion on the dumpster ordinance, City Planner Justin Taylor clarified that language will be added to the ordinance so it refers to construction dumpsters and not more permanent dumpsters.

“Businesses would still be allowed to have dumpsters in the alley in the downtown area, however, the purpose of this ordinance – the reason why it is before you today – is to help dissuade people from leaving a dumpster in the public right-of-way, on the streets for extended periods of time,” Taylor said. “In the downtown, this has become an ongoing issue. We’re seeing a lot of renovation downtown, which is great, but we’re also seeing multiple parking spaces being taken up for months at a time with these dumpsters, so we’d like to encourage the businesses that are using these dumpsters to place them either on private property for the duration of the construction or require a permit to enable them to have a dumpster there.”

Currently, city ordinances do not address dumpsters for construction purposes.
Councilwoman Diane Quance asked if the permits would just be for commercial or if it also would apply to people putting on their roof or landlords cleaning out an apartment and they have a dumpster sitting there for a long time. Taylor said the ordinance would be for anyone placing a dumpster in public right-of-way.

Plan Commission President Rick Keeven asked if there are violators, what are the remedies? Taylor said the violator could be taken to a code hearing where there could be civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Quance asked if the permit was $15 for one to 15 days and not $15 for each of those days. Taylor said it was $15 for 1 to 15 days and not per day, but the plan commission could propose an alternative fee. He said he got the fee amount from other communities in the area of Warsaw’s size.

Keeven asked if the city could demand the dumpster be put on private property so as to not block public parking spaces. Taylor said they could have the ability to deny the permit for the dumpster if there was a visibility or safety concern.

“We do understand the need to place dumpsters in the public right-of-way at times. There’s definitely a lot of construction projects downtown where it’s necessary, however, we want to make sure that the proper things are put under the dumpster … and that has not been happening, damaging the road downtown,” Taylor said.

Quance wanted to know if there would be a sign that would go on the dumpster so people will know it has a permit to be placed in the public right-of-way. Taylor said that wouldn’t necessarily have to be in the ordinance, but they could ask the person when they apply for a permit to post it.

Quance asked if $15 was enough to cover the building and planning department’s costs for the permits.

“The planning department is not a profit center for the city,” Taylor said, “but that’s a good point. That’s something that could be discussed.”

Quance said she just wanted to make sure the permit covers the cost of what they’re doing. Taylor said the intention of the ordinance was not to recoup all their expenses of the permitting but just a way to regulate the placement of the dumpsters.

Councilman Jeff Grose said he liked the idea that someone had to get a permit for a dumpster.

“I remember several years ago there was a dumpster in the downtown area that was there for a long, long time,” Grose said.

Plan member Jim Gast, who is a contractor, said what could happen is you get a dumpster and start using it, but the contractor may get delayed or the work takes longer than expected. He said there’s got to be some provision for that. “I personally don’t like the ordinance much,” Gast said.

Grose suggested the permit be for one to 30 days for one set fee. No permit for dumpster placement can be extended beyond those 30 days without approval by the board works, he pointed out.

Quance suggested the permit fee for a dumpster should be $20 for one to 30 days. Beyond those 30 days, the dumpster would need board of works approval.

Grose made a motion to table the dumpster ordinance to the commission’s next meeting so the planning department can make revisions to it. The motion was approved 6-0.

Moving on to the warehousing ordinance, Taylor said the ordinance came about from discussions with members of the city council regarding storage facilities that were popping up in commercial districts.

Under the existing ordinance, warehousing inside storage is permitted in Commercial-2, C-3, Industrial-1, I-2 and I-3 zones and with a special exception in C-5. Warehousing of hazardous materials and warehousing with outside storage are only permitted by special exception in I-2 and I-3 zones.

Under the proposed new ordinance, warehousing inside storage would be permitted only in I-1, I-2 and I-3 and by special exception in C-5. Warehousing would no longer be permitted in C-2 or C-3. Warehousing of hazardous material and outside storage would not change.

“This really protects our commercial buildings. We’ve had a couple existing commercial structures that aren’t necessarily filling their highest and best use by being these storage buildings that don’t really fit into the context of a commercial zone,” Taylor said.

Keeven asked what was the former Ace Hardware building on East Center Street, which is now a storage business. Taylor said C-2. Keeven asked if that’s an example of what the city was trying to prevent.

“Yeah, there’s loading and unloading that happens in front of that building. Technically, that’s not allowed per our ordinance to have unscreened loading and unloading zone. The use doesn’t really fit those existing commercial structures. There are places for these facilities, but they should be more out of the main tracks,” Taylor said.

Quance made the motion to recommend to the Common Council that the ordinance be approved, and the motion passed 6-0.