Building Dept. cracking down on shipping containers

Prohibited without a building permit
Thu, 06/06/2019 - 5:00pm

The New Shoreham Building Department is cracking down on shipping containers that reside on properties on Block Island without the property owner being in receipt of a building permit for such use. Having a shipping container, or a similar structure on a property without a building permit is a violation of the town’s zoning ordinance and punishable by a fine of up to $500 per day.

Building Official Marc Tillson told The Times that if shipping containers are not removed within the next 30 days, the Building Department will begin enforcement action to have them removed. Tillson made that remark to The Times on Friday, May 24, meaning that shipping containers need to be removed from properties before June 24.

Tillson said once a shipping container is removed from a truck, or a vehicle with wheels, and placed on a property it then becomes a structure and “has to meet dimensional standards of the town’s zoning ordinance. Just like if you wanted to put a shed on your property.”

“There are a dozen on the island in violation of the zoning ordinance that I know of right now,” said Tillson, who noted that, “Shipping containers have always been a big bugaboo for the town. If you have a shipping container on your property and it is not a permitted job site it’s in violation of our zoning ordinance. I ask anyone that has a shipping container on their property to get rid of them within the next 30 days.”

Tillson said if a shipping container is not removed within 30 days, every subsequent day becomes a continuation of the violation and “is considered a separate and distinct offense.” He noted that compliance is required within 10 days of the issuance of a notice of violation by the Building Department.

Per section three of the ordinance, under general prohibitions, “the parking or use of trailers, shipping containers and similar temporary and/or mobile facilities for any commercial or industrial activity or storage, except by a contractor in association with a permitted construction job site,” is a violation of the town’s zoning ordinance.

“We want to give property owners time to abate the violation,” said Tillson. He wanted the information published in the newspaper so that property owners would have time to address the issue. “If not, we will enforce the violation.”