Within the next several months, Gahanna residents could see some restrictions put in place for residential portable storage units.

Within the next several months, Gahanna residents could see some restrictions put in place for residential portable storage units.

Gahanna City Council held a public hearing July 21 to consider changing the zoning code to put restrictions on the portable storage units.

"It is not a huge problem here in Gahanna," zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said. "We have had a couple of occasions where they have sat too long, been there too long."

Gard told council members she checked to see how other communities regulate the units. The topic was discussed at a Code Enforcement of Ohio meeting a few months ago, she said. Officials from Riverside and Westerville spoke at that meeting.

Although it hasn't been a big issue in Gahanna, Gard said, this is a good time to start thinking about the issue. She said she has noticed more of the units in the past several months.

"A few have popped up in neighborhoods and overstayed their welcome," she said.

Members of council's finance committee Monday night questioned the need for permits.

Residents who need portable storage for one week shouldn't need a permit, council member Nancy McGregor said. She filed a complaint with zoning after hearing neighbors complain about a unit in place for a year.

McGregor said she knows of only two instances in which people had the portable storage longer than two or three months. She said most people are out within two weeks.

Gard said without a permit, the city would have no way to track how long the POD has been in place.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb agreed that it would be difficult to track the storage units without a permit.

If residents use the portage storage for 30 days or less, council member Tom Kneeland said, he didn't see a need for the permit or a $25 fee associated with a permit.

Council member Tom Evers said vendors seemed willing to work with the city so perhaps the city could leave the responsibility with the vendor. The vendor could pay a $5 to $20 permit fee which could be refunded if the portable storage unit is out in under a week.

Development director Sadicka White said the development department could try to implement some changes to the legislation. She encouraged council members to contact the department with concerns.

"We could come back with something," White said. "I heard a couple or three things (to work on). There are some things we could massage."

The portable storage units may be placed in driveways or parking areas, Gard said, but will not be permitted in grass. She said police Chief Dennis Murphy will help to regulate the units.

Gard said she also did some Internet research to learn the sizes of units offered by PODS -- one of the largest producers and renters of the units.

"We wanted to make sure what we were permitting was in step with the products they had," Gard said.

If council approves the proposed zoning code change, residents would be required to pay a $25 permit for the units. The permit would be for 30 consecutive days, with no more than two permits in a year and a minimum of 15 days between two permits.

Gard said the code change also stipulates that the units would not be permitted on public streets, in alleys or in public rights of way. She said residents would be required to maintain the appropriate amount of off-street parking spaces.

She said city officials contacted the PODS regional manager and learned that the city could arrange to have the portable storage company remove units that are in violation of the zoning code.

Murphy said the street, not zoning, is his jurisdiction. Zoning governs driveways and yards.

"The legislation looks good," Murphy said. "I think we are going to have to tweak it just a little bit. Putting stuff on the street is prohibited. There has to be exception to that."

Murphy said putting the units in driveways wouldn't always be feasible, though. Currently, he said, residents contact him; he inspects the street to ensure they are placed safely and will be on the street the shortest amount of time possible.

"My primary concern is safety," Murphy said. "We don't want someone driving into the POD on the street, or fire hydrants being blocked."

The units shouldn't be on a curb or on a main city thoroughfare, Murphy said, adding that he hasn't had to address compliance problems thus far.

"The biggest abuse is leaving them in driveways for months on end," Murphy said.