The Big Spring City Council approved first reading of amendments to the municipal zoning ordinances to allow for the use of "intermodal shipping containers" as living quarters Tuesday night, tightening the city's control on the use of what city officials consider temporary housing.
The amendments — which provide for a number of requirements, including a special use permit and fencing around the sea container homes that abut property in use — were approved on a 6-1 vote, with District 1 Councilman Marcus Fernandez the lone dissenter.
District 2 Councilwoman Carmen Harbour, District 3 Councilman Glen Carrigan, District 4 Councilman Bobby McDonald, District 5 Councilman Raul Benavides, District 6 Councilman Marvin Boyd and Mayor Larry McLellan all voted in favor of the measure, which is expected to be considered for final approval during a special meeting set for Wednesday.
The ordinance, which was approved by the city's zoning committee, didn't meet with a great deal of fanfare from local residents Don Avant and Dale Avant, who are currently renting out a number of the 320-square-feet homes on the city's north side.
“I just don't think it's right to say we have to put up permanent wood or masonry fencing for properties the city is saying are temporary,” Dale Avant said. “We're not treating these homes as temporary. We're looking at them as permanent homes for the city.”
Avant also took exception to the requirement for a special use permit owners and operators of the tiny homes would have to renew every two years for $250 for the lot.
“You're not going around to the motels and hotels and making them get one of these,” Avant told the council. “You're not going around to them and telling them that in two years, if they aren't occupied then they are going to have to tear them down.”