Apache Junction residents with free-standing storage containers on their property could face criminal prosecution, following the failure of a proposed ordinance to ease existing restrictions.
City Council members were unable to reach a compromise on details of the rule change, which would have allowed storage containers as long as they were screened by a fence, wall or decorative covering.
City rules make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to have a storage container of any size, even on an active construction site. The rules have been in place for 20 years but are rarely if ever enforced,
Two attempts to pass the more permissive ordinance during Tuesday’s council meeting, each time with different amendments, both failed by 4-3 votes.
Two council members, Jeff Serdy and Joe Severs, voted for both versions of the proposed ordinance, although they favored one that would have allowed the containers on large-lot residential property in addition to commercially zoned land. The alternate version, proposed by Councilman R.E. Eck, would have eased the restrictions only in commercial zones.
Severs was the most outspoken advocate for allowing the containers. He accused other council members of ignoring residents’ needs.
“What about the people that already have them and need them?” he asked.
But council members Richard Dietz and Robin Barker joined Mayor John Insalaco in opposing both attempts to repeal the existing ban.
Insalaco said Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker had asked him about the proposed change, making Insalaco worry that Mesa might have used an approval to gain leverage in its efforts to compete with Apache Junction for state trust land in the unincorporated Superstition Vistas area southeast of both cities.
“All they have to do is go to (the Arizona Land Department) and say, ‘Look, do you want this land down south to look like boxcar junction, like they’ve got over there?’” Insalaco said.