Friday, April 4, 2008

Storage issue delayed until next year

Storage issue delayed until next year

Springfield business owners upset about container proposal pleased with action.

Jaime Baranyai • News-Leader • April 3, 2008

Much to the appeasement of business owners, Springfield's proposed storage container ordinance will be put on hold for more than a year.

The City Council Community Involvement Committee on Wednesday afternoon decided to put an administrative delay on the ordinance until Sept. 11, at which time the delay will be formally extended for a year.

"That is the smartest, wisest thing that the city leaders of Springfield can do with that issue," said Tom Martz of Mozark Environmental. "Anything the city can do to maintain the businesses here is a wise future investment."

Many other business owners have sat through multiple public meetings during the past two years fighting with the city over the storage containers.

The matter eventually became so confusing and nettlesome that Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver suggested a "cooling off" period after a meeting with business owners last month turned contentious.

Business owners said Wednesday they're thankful the storage container issue has been officially put on the back burner.

Brenda Teeslink, who owns Mobile Storage Solutions, said she is thrilled the issue has been put on hold.

"This is the right thing for them to do at this time," she said. "It's an issue that does not deserve the attention it got to begin with. It snowballed into something that was unnecessary."

Rita Needham, executive director of the Southwest Area Manufacturers Association, said she too was happy with the administrative delay put on the storage container issue.

"That's probably the best thing that could have happened today, and I was pleased to see it get done," Needham said after Wednesday's meeting.

"It will be a cooling off period that gives everybody time to step back and rethink it."

She said by the time the council is ready to revisit the issue, hopefully the new city manager can offer a new perspective.

Jim Pretti, who owns Ozark Flag Distributors and uses storage containers to hold some of his merchandise, said he's glad the issue has been delayed but would like to see it done away with altogether.

"There's so many other things Springfield has to worry about right now besides those trailers ... let's worry about the police department and the fire department," he said.

Councilman Dan Chiles, who has opposed the ordinance from the beginning, echoed those sentiments. He said dealing with the city's budget crisis is the biggest priority right now.

Chiles said he can live with the decision to delay any action on the storage container issue.

"Life is a compromise ... I would have preferred to just do away with it, but this is OK," he said.

In the meantime, it seems there's been enough light shed on the issue to make business owners aware of the regulations surrounding storage containers, according to Needham with the Southwest Area Manufacturers Association.

"There are a lot of companies that once the storage container issue was discussed and brought to light, they became aware of the proper placements and made adjustments accordingly," she said. "Once they find out what the right thing is to do they're going to comply with that."

Deaver said he's already noticed a change.

"I have noted significant improvements in the placement and use of the containers throughout the community and believe we can delay action on this issue for a period of time," he said.

Teeslink with Mobile Storage Solutions said she's happy to hear that.

"They've realized that the businesses out there are not knowingly breaking any of the codes -- and when they were taught what to do they corrected them," she said.

Teeslink said when the storage container issue is eventually taken up again, she hopes the city will approach it with a different perspective. She said she wants them to treat it as a training and educational issue.

"Any safety training that they are willing to take the time to do, I'll be there with bells on. That's what we want. We want them to educate instead of regulate."

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