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Turlock City Council adopts new zoning ordinance
cargo container pic
The cargo containers at Seegers Printing, a local business since 1974, are painted the same color as the businesss brick and mortar building adjacent to the containers to help them blend in better. Cargo containers being used on private property for a year or longer require a permit from the city.

Four years and 18 public workshops later and the City of Turlock has repealed and replaced its Zoning Ordinance.

Amendments to the Ordinance were discussed in depth on Tuesday as the City held an hour long public workshop prior to its regularly scheduled council meeting. Deputy Director of Development Services Debbie Whitmore said the City has taken a lot of public comment into consideration when reforming the ordinance as many amendments were proposed by local residents and business owners.

“We have a number of people who have followed the amendments, requested the amendments, or those that have been very interested in seeing those amendments take place,” said Whitmore.

The refined ordinance more directly outlines regulations in Turlock that guide property rules. Some of the regulations unanimously approved Tuesday evening by the Turlock City Council include permitting electric fences and outlining their specific safety requirements, regulating signage in town, as well as noise standards.

Council Member Steven Nascimento proposed an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to require double striping for all future parking lots to mitigate the concern and damages caused for drivers when vehicles park adjacent to one another.  While this new rule won’t impact existing parking lots, new projects or significant restructuring parking lot projects would need to comply with the new standard.

Another element of the zoning ordinance that gained traction was the City’s approval of an amnesty program for cargo container permits, the ultimate aim of which is to create safe and secure containers on private property. While permits are not required for temporary use of containers, such as construction on a home for three months or less, a permit is required for those in use for a year or longer. 

Council Member Bill DeHart vocalized concerns that the term “amnesty” implies that those businesses or people with cargo containers have done something wrong. He instead proposed grandfathering in these businesses, like Seeger’s Printing, that has two containers stacked on each other that seamlessly blend in with their brick and mortar building.

“I really am concerned about this particular case,” said DeHart , who indicated to knowing the longstanding business intimately.” I think if people… looked they would see two light brown buildings and unless one knew that that was a storage container… one would never know unless they walked up to it and looked for confirmation.”

While the Council proceeded to unanimously adopt the new Zoning Ordinance with its changes to the cargo containers, Whitmore assured DeHart that the City will deal with each case’s unique situation in an accommodating manner.