State Rep. Adline Clarke ( D – Mobile), is in the process of moving a portable storage unit she leases after it spent more than a year on a public street adjacent to property she owns in the Church Street East Historic District. Clarke said she was notified two days ago that her PODS unit sitting at the end of a service road near the corner of Canal and South Broad streets was in violation of city ordinance.
She said she was unaware of the violation and initially questioned it because that portion of the service road is barricaded before it reaches South Broad and the only property affected by the storage unit is property she owns.
Clarke said she rented the unit for a renovation and expansion project at a house she owns at 856 Canal St. and has had it in front of that residence for about a year. The unit stores items from the inside of the residence she had to remove to allow an architect to take measurements, in keeping with rules of expansions inside a historic district.
“It’s an old house,” she said. “In order to do everything required in a historic district an architect had to come in and take measurements.”
She said since removing the items, the renovation plans have been bogged down by multiple meetings with city officials.
“I had to take everything out of my house,” she said. “Since then things have been at a standstill.”
Laura Byrne, a spokeswoman for Mayor Sandy Stimpson, said the city was notified of the violation this week. She confirmed that the unit is not allowed to be in the right-of-way and said the city had contacted Clarke about it.
Councilwoman Bess Rich said she would like to see more regulations placed on portable storage units in residentially zoned areas. She and Councilman Joel Daves co-sponsored a resolution that passed unanimously during Tuesday’s City Council meeting asking the Planning Commission to look at such an amendment to the zoning ordinance.
Rich said the amendment she has in mind would limit the amount of time PODS, or cargo containers can be visible on private, residential property. She said the amendment would give a 72-hour grace period for the storage containers, after that the renter would be required to get a building permit from the city for up to an additional 60 days. Following the 60-day period, the unit must be moved and screened so it’s not visible.
Rich said the councilors researched laws in other cities, following a number of complaints related to the issue.