Town of Grafton says no to pet condos made of shipping containers

By Melanie Boyung - Special to Conley Media

Sept. 12, 2019

GRAFTON — A business proposal for pet boarding and shipping container storage stalled out in the town of Grafton last week.

The town of Grafton Plan Commission last week considered a conditional use permit application from Matt Littau for the former Ozaukee County Wisconsin Humane Society property at 2073 County Highway W.

According to the application he submitted, the business was to “provide innovative commercial pet boarding services as well as pet condos, and the sale and storage of pet condos.” After discussion, the Plan Commission tabled the application for 60 days.

Town Chairman Lester Bartel, who also heads the Plan Commission, said the commission delayed action to gather more information on the matter, and examine the town’s code.

In the staff recommendation to deny the permit application, staff wrote, “As presented, town staff feels that the application is unable to be further reviewed due to the existing code language and the application’s extensive use of semitrailer shipping containers.”

Last month, the Town Board approved a moratorium on development and conditional use applications involving shipping containers. During those discussions, Bartel several times discussed the similarity between shipping containers and semitrailers; the town of Grafton zoning code already prohibits semitrailers.

The two-month pause means Littau could make modifications to his plan. According to his original plan, the boarding facility would provide room for up to 17 dogs in separate kennels, as well as space for cats or other small animals in crates in a different area.

The letter to the town said Littau “will offer pet condos, which will consist of modified shipping containers placed on the properties. These containers will be customized to specific customer needs, allowing them the opportunity to have their pet boarded or cared for in a more individual environment that is tailored to them.”

The proposal suggested there would be 20 to 60 shipping containers on the property at any given time, depending on the demand. Littau wrote that the business would have access to a manufacturer in central Wisconsin that modifies shipping containers.

The property is about 4 acres, and currently still owned by the Wisconsin Humane Society, according to town documents.

Littau did not respond to requests for information on his plans moving forward before the News Graphic deadline.