Shipping-container fence OK’d for blocking thieves at tire/repair shop

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Updated: May 27, 2020 6:38 PM CT | Published: May 27, 2020 6:04 PM CT

A Whitehaven tire/repair shop business — operating in what was described as a crime-ridden area — received approval Wednesday, May 27, to keep using shipping containers as a security fence.

“I see no other way I could secure my shop,” Moatesem Itayem, owner of Mot C Wheels at 4599 Millbranch, told the Board of Adjustment in a teleconference meeting. “I’ve been there since 2009. I don’t know how else to secure my shop.”

The board voted 8-0 to approve a zoning variance allowing the shipping containers despite a “rejection” recommendation from the planning staff of Office of Planning & Development.

Since asking a month ago that the case review be delayed, Itayem has improved the appearance of the eight metal containers by straightening their alignment and painting them.

A fence of shipping containers deters theft, violates zoning

He also received the endorsement of the Memphis Fire Department, which a month ago considered the site a fire hazard.

The shipping containers serve a second purpose: They provide storage for new and used tires.

A fire inspector told the board Wednesday that Itayem has improved the organization of the tires and substantially reduced the number of tires there. The inspector also said that the tires are much less of a fire hazard if they are stored in the containers than stored outside.

Itayem has operated Mot C Wheels at the site since 2009.

“Security is the main reason he decided to use the storage containers” as a fence, said his planning consultant, Cindy Reaves of SR Consulting. “The adjacent Mill Creek Apartments is unfortunately one of the most dangerous apartment communities in Memphis.

“… The fence gets cut daily and they climb through the fence; he cannot secure his site with a fence,” Reaves said.

Behind the shop’s building, the metal containers line the north, west and south sides of the property.

The Whitehaven Community Development Corp. and a physician with a nearby office, Dr. Jesse Edward McGee, had opposed the shipping containers as being unsightly and a negative impact on the neighborhood.

The OPD staff, in recommending rejection of the variances, found that the containers would have “an undue adverse impact” on the vicinity.

The planning staff also determined that alternative ways of storage and securing the business are available and would comply with the Unified Development Code.


Board of Adjustment shipping containers crime
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey retired in January as a business reporter at The Daily Memphian, and after 40 years in journalism. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He has lived in Midtown for 36 years.