Columbus looks at Conex boxes

Julie Parent
Columbus Reporter

Conex boxes have become popular storage units in Columbus. Whether or not the rectangular, metal shipping container boxes should be regulated was one of the topics discussed at the Columbus City Council meeting April 26.

Councilman Bill Krebs was adamantly opposed to Columbus residents having Conex boxes. After receiving many complaint calls about Conex boxes, Krebs thought they were an eyesore that shouldn’t be allowed in the new housing developments.

“What do you want the city to look like?” Krebs asked the council. “What is the vision for the city?”

He was concerned that if everyone had a Conex box, the city wouldn’t look nice, which would negatively affect future growth.

However, some of the council members, including Mayor Dave Povolny, currently have Conex boxes on their property. Povolny asked the public what they thought about Conex boxes. Some people attending the meeting disagreed with regulating Conex boxes because they are an inexpensive way to store larger items, like all-terrain vehicles. One resident said he moved to Columbus years ago so he could do what he wanted to do in a rural area instead of having to follow a bunch of rules in a pretty little city.

Krebs said if Conex boxes were not regulated, the council was “only making the people who want them happy, not the people who have to look at them.” After a lengthy discussion, the council came to the conclusion that permanent storage units, like Conex boxes, need to meet the following criteria:

• They must be included in the square footage already allowed for residential accessory buildings.
• They cannot be on property that is less than 5 acres.
• They cannot have logos on them and must be painted a harmonious color.
• They cannot be stacked.
• They must be in the resident’s backyard and screened 80 percent.
• They must be raised 6 inches off the ground.

Senior center

The Columbus Senior Center was also discussed at the meeting. The amount to make the updates requested throughout the center was estimated at $14,000, which was more than the council expected. The council recommended getting another estimate to professionally clean the kitchen and range hood, paint the kitchen, and replace the floors in the kitchen. Povolny said the range hood needs to be cleaned for safety reasons. In addition, paint will be supplied to the people who have volunteered to clean and paint the walls in some of the other areas of the building. The other requests for improvements at the senior center will not be done at this time because of the cost.

County Road 54

Finally, the council received an update on the construction project that will relocate County Road 54. Sixty percent of the plans have been completed. Building a screen near Running Aces to prevent their horses from being spooked is being considered. Povolny said he would like a walking path to be extended to keep people off the road for safety reasons.

“It’s always more money to build it later,” he pointed out.

The names of the streets for this project were approved by the council. The new County Road 54 will retain the West Freeway Drive name, while the old West Freeway Drive road to the east will become a city street and be renamed to Evers Street. East-west roadways connecting to the project will have numbered street names. Some of the businesses and residents already located on the existing streets that will be renamed will have to change their addresses. The project, which will be done in six stages, is scheduled to begin in November or December of this year. Substantial completion of the project should be done by November 2018. Final completion is expected in July 2019.