The saga of cargo containers met an anti-climactic end in Manvel on Oct. 21 after multiple citizens spoke both for and against the use of them by private residents for storage purposes within the city limits.
The council heard arguments from multiple residents both for and against the ordinance passed five years ago.
Mary Catherine-Cousins, who encouraged the council to revisit the issue after receiving a citation shortly following her purchase of a shipping container for storage purposes, defended herself and her position for a third time. She said most of her neighbors did not realize she owned a cargo container and that most said it did not bother them.
Catherine-Cousins was backed in her stance by Planning, Development and Zoning Board member Dorothy Wynn and former city councilman Adrian Gaspar.
“When I first moved here over 20 years ago, I saw a lot of my neighbors, they had a conex. Never bothered me. I don’t live on their property, I believe in property rights; they can do whatever they want to their unless it’s probably environmentally not safe,” Gaspar said.
Councilman Dan Davis said he had concerns about an ordinance that limits what residents can do on their own property.
“Personally I believe that the government should not infringe upon an individual’s quality of life through the overly restrictive acceptable use of property which has a foundation built on the property’s zoning classification,” Davis said, before adding that he also understood the issue that the placement of cargo containers can affect neighbors.
Davis suggested relaxation of the rules with stipulations as one of multiple possible solutions that would enable residents to use cargo containers with certain limitations to meet their storage needs.
Councilwoman Lorraine Hehn said she did not wish to open the ordinance, but supported an extended period of time during which cargo containers will be permitted for temporary use by residents. Currently, residents have 30 days after placement of a cargo container to apply for a 30-day permit.
Councilman Brian Wilmer said he was indifferent to the idea of neighbors using cargo containers for storage. He said some of his own neighbors have them and he is not bothered, despite being able to see one corner each of two different containers from his property.
“Personally, I really don’t care,” Wilmer said.
“At some point you have to sort of trust people to do what they think is right. I don’t think it’s the government’s place to tell you what you can and can’t have in your backyard,” Wilmer said.
After discussion, the council voted against reopening the ordinance prohibiting the use of cargo containers.
Fortunately for Catherine-Cousins, the company who sold her the cargo container now on her property has agreed to buy it back.