The village of Brookfield is looking to change its building code to prevent residents from placing temporary storage units, commonly referred to as PODS (Portable On Demand Storage) outside on their properties for months at a time.

While the problem is not widespread, there have been instances where people have had PODS on their properties for six months or more, said Nicholas Greifer, the village of Brookfield’s director of community and economic development.

“We think we need clearer authority to enforce the code,” Greifer said. “This is making it clear they cannot be renewed indefinitely. It’s not a huge problem, but I think it’d become a bigger problem is we don’t address it.”

The current language regarding “containers” – the law also covers construction dumpsters – says that container permits are valid “for 10 days and renewable.” The law doesn’t put a cap on the number of times someone can renew a container permit.

As a result, if the village issues a citation for the container and it goes to adjudication, the village has a hard time convincing the adjudicator that there’s a violation.

PODS weren’t used widely when the village’s law on containers went into effect in 2007, and at the outset the units were seen as very temporary solutions for storing items while a homeowner was moving from one house to another. Often they were gone within days.

Now that the village has seen a spike in teardown/rebuild construction and large-scale home remodeling projects, PODS are now also being used for long-term construction storage, said Greifer.

“That seems to have created a new set of problems,” Greifer said.

At the village board’s committee of the whole meeting on June 12, Greifer presented language defining both temporary storage units and dumpsters and new rules regarding the permit duration.

According to the recommendation, dumpster permits would be valid for 30 days and renewed for an additional 30 days. In the case of a larger building project — that is, any permit valued at $100,000 or more, adding 50 percent or more to the existing structure or a teardown – permits can be issued for 90 days, with the possibility of a 90-day renewal.

In the case of temporary storage containers, however, the permit would be valid for 30 days, with a one-time renewal.

While trustees didn’t appear to have a problem with the language for dumpster permits, some expressed reservations about allowing temporary storage units for 30 days or more.

“Why would it need to be there for 30 days?” asked Trustee Nicole Gilhooley. “Because in my mind you’d have it on your property for maybe 48 hours, max.”

Trustee Michael Garvey also wondered if a 30-day permit plus the possibility of a 30-day renewal might be too long, and suggested limiting the time.

The matter will likely come back to the board for additional consideration at its next meeting on June 26. In the meantime, staff will investigate how neighboring communities handle PODS permitting and perhaps change language related to temporary storage to shorten the window in which they’re allowed.

“We have to look at what the sweet spot is for the [village board members] here,” Greifer said.