City eyes ban on storage units

HARLINGEN — For years, bulky, boxy metal storage units have stood outside businesses, some cluttering the sides of city streets.

Since last year, city officials have targeted them as eyesores standing in the way of city’s beautification program.

So in February, city commissioners ordered a 90-day moratorium on any new storage units.

Tonight, commissioners are expected to consider an ordinance banning these storage units within city limits.

“It’s a part of our beautification efforts city-wide,” City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday. “This is a continuation of that process.”

In some cases, the city might recommend storage units be replaced by structures such as storage sheds.

Under the proposed ordinance, construction sites would be allowed one storage unit.

“One of the issues we have is that they pop up during construction,” Rodrigo Davila, the city’s planning director, said.

The new ordinance would require construction sites to keep storage units hidden from sight.

“Storage containers must not be visible from ordinary public view,” the proposed ordinance states. “It must be screened with a fence, rapidly-growing trees planted in a dense pattern or shrubs planted in a dense pattern.”

In some cases, complaints have led officials to take action against storage units, Serna said.

“They’re visible from rights of way and in some cases very unsightly,” he said.

Last year, officials asked Walmart to remove as many as 40 storage units standing in long rows in the back of the store off Lincoln Avenue.

In back of the store, the number of storage units appeared to increase in the months before Christmas.

“Some (cases involved) the quantity of the containers on certain locations,” Serna said.

Often standing along parking lots, some storage units hog tight parking spaces, Mayor Chris Boswell has said.

More recently, storage units have popped up outside many Stripes convenience stores.

Davila said he has worked with Stripes to clear out the storage units.

“They were in favor of whatever the city wants to do to be compliant,” he said.

As officials prepared to consider the city’s moratorium, they did some housekeeping.

At Hugh Ramsey Nature Park and McKelvey, Pendleton, Victor and Arroyo parks, crews were removing storage units, Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, has said.

Meanwhile, the Harlingen National Bronco League and the Texas Youth Football League were removing a total of two units at Victor Park and the Wilson Sports Complex.