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Container houses draw criticism, support

Staff writer

For the first time since he retired in June, former city administrator Larry Paine came to a meeting to advise Hillsboro city council members Tuesday.

“It’s strange to be on this side of the table,” Paine said.

Paine was there to join an open discussion about proposed development of container houses in Hillsboro.

Paine said he was concerned about the aesthetics and what people would think when they drove into the community.

Paine said when he researched container homes, he noticed names of shipping companies on the sides of the containers.

“If you want to proceed with this, you want to do a development agreement,” Paine said. “I’m imploring the planning commission to look at what they can do.”

Council members heard from several residents unhappy about the prospect of container houses.

Whether in person or online, 14 people attended to speak or hear what others said.

“Anybody who is here and wants to speak on the container housing item will be heard,” mayor Lou Thurston said.

Thurston reminded participants they each had five minutes to speak and that decorum would be observed.

School board member Rod Kuntz spoke first. He said that while progress is important for any organization, he didn’t think 3rd St. was the place to develop container housing.

“It doesn’t look like we can support any kind of housing development,” Kuntz said.

Kuntz asked council members to consider not only immediate needs but also future community needs.

Some people said they disliked the aesthetics of container houses.

Another said he was concerned about harmful chemicals possibly having been shipped in containers used to make houses.

Another man said he thought the metal exteriors would be too cold.

“There’s a big misconception that we’re going to build these single-wide trailers,” developer Felix Ramirez said.

Ramirez said concerns about houses being poorly insulated were not correct.

He said he kept the heat on in houses at the trailer park and his electric bill was $27.

“I’ve never in my life had a $27 electric bill,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said container homes were durable and affordable. The roofs and siding never have to be replaced because they are metal.

“What we’re planning on doing is, we’re trying to build affordable housing,” Ramirez said. “Has anybody ever been in the ones we have in the trailer park?”

He said people who had been inside the container homes at the trailer park said the homes are not what they expected and they would live in one.

David Zeller spoke in favor of developing container houses.

Hillsboro supports recycling, and vendors at the annual Arts and Crafts festival often market recycled products, he said.

Zeller said he’d seen container homes in some of his travels, and liked the way they look.

“Seeing some of the houses around town, some of the houses around town aesthetically need a little work,” Zeller said.

Jonah Gehring, formerly a city council member and now a county commissioner, encouraged planning and zoning commission members to deal with potential problems before they arise.

Thurston said he understood concerns about the appearance of entryways to the community, but it was not known how proposed container homes would look.

Thurston said he appreciated that speakers were civil to each other.

Last modified Jan. 20, 2022

 

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