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Thread: Clothing collection boxes: the newest nuisance

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Clothing collection boxes: the newest nuisance

    Over the summer, it seems like literally tens of charity clothing collection boxes have appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Here's a few examples within about a mile of my house:











    The boxes are apparently unregulated in South Euclid, the city where I live. They're placed in walkways, drive aisles, parking areas, landscape buffers, and so on, without regard for setbacks or architectural review approval. The less-than-scrupulous Planet Aid is the most prolific, followed by the Special Olympics and other charities that deal with those who are MRDD.

    I'm curious about whether your community is facing a similar invasion of charity collection boxes, and how it deals with them.

    The presence of clothing collection boxes in a parking space could bring a site below the minimum number of parking spaces required for the use. (No, I'm not a fan of providing enough spaces for 500 year parking events, but some lots in inner ring suburban areas can be tight, and it's a technicality one can use to stop their proliferation.) Collection boxes might also be placed in designated drive aisles, walkways and landscaping areas where zoning or an approved site plan would not permit such intrusions.

    In some ways, collection boxes look and function much like garbage dumpsters. They often overflow, too, with dumped clothing, furniture and appliances around the box. A zoning administrator could interpret that a charity clothing collection box and a dumpster should be treated similarly. The definition for "dumpster" in a zoning code could also be reworded, or perhaps the term changed to "collection containers" that describes a variety of containers for collecting trash, clothing, recyclables, paper and so on.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Ugh. I know what you mean. Unfortunately, there is no plan commission that is willing to say no to these people. They use the heartstrings argument. "Oh, how could you prohibit us from collecting from all of those good people for the needy in our community?"
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Around these parts, at least the sponsor of the boxes (a parochial school) states that they get all the proceeds.

    To their credit, the box sponsor seems to keep them clean and emptied regularly. No piles around them, for the most part.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    ha, dumpsters, I like it!

    Here we tell them they have to get adminstrative approval, like a very minor site plan to put one out. We treat them as un-approved site elements for exactly the reasons that Dan stated, they are in buffers, on property lines, in parking spaces, etc. Our zoning compliance officers keep eagle eyes out for them around town, I guess we are lucky.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  5. #5
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I have an issue with these things if the occupy parking spaces or interfere with vehicular or pedestrian circulation. But alas, my concerns fall on deaf ears.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Seems like the heart strings argument works here.

    Though really, is it a bad thing that the local CVS or Diner has a couple of parking spots taken away? I see three positives:

    1) People now know where to donate.
    2) Less "stuff" gets thrown out.
    3) Fewer spaces equals fewer trips/cars on the roads?????

  7. #7
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by iamnyc View post
    Seems like the heart strings argument works here.

    Though really, is it a bad thing that the local CVS or Diner has a couple of parking spots taken away? I see three positives:

    1) People now know where to donate.
    2) Less "stuff" gets thrown out.
    3) Fewer spaces equals fewer trips/cars on the roads?????
    I'm sure there are some of the 'boxes' that are a bona fided charity, but some of them are not. Some are for-profit companies and if you google this topic you will find several articles talking about the controversies with the companies that put out these boxes. Plus, the stack up of donations outside of the boxes is pretty unattractive.

    Many times the property owner does not even know or approve the box going on the site. This is the case with shopping centers with out-of-area owners. We had one just recently that someone had put stradling the property line of 2 businesses, neither of which had wanted the box on their property.

    If you gotta donate your stuff, go to the local goodwill or the salvation army, at least you can get your tax write off slip when you bring it in and know its going to a real charity.

    And less cars on the road because of a few less parking spaces? Its not worth having to look at those ugly boxes all the time!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Think twice before putting clothes/shoes in ^^these Planet Aid boxes!
    Last year, it [Planet Aid] collected about $22 million in clothes nationwide, but gave only $5 million of that to charity, according to the organization's financial statements.

    "We have high expenses," said Planet Aid spokesman Doug Bailey.
    From article:http://mobile.newsday.com/news.jsp?k...full=1&rc=null

    Article Summary:
    On Long Island, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, it was found that:
    - some clothing collection boxes are for for-profit companies, and
    - the charity collection boxes don't necessarily give a large percentage of their proceeds to the charities.

    Article details what's happening on Long Island and gives info on ^^these practices on a nation-wide scope.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I don't know - maybe a little untidyness is OK considering their benefit. Our society is virtually drowning in unnecessary stuff and clear places where we can pass things on to the needy seem like a good idea even if they look funny next to the junipers at Walgreens.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Oddly enough I did notice a couple of months ago that many around where I live are gone, donno why or where they went but I have seen far far fewer of them in the areas I frequent.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  11. #11
    Cyburbian lilschmidty's avatar
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    I work for a City that has seen a rise in these clothing collection containers. The containers belong to a for-profit company. We are beginning to get complaints on them as well. I was assigned the task of trying to update our ordinance in order to regulate them. Have any of you seen any communities which regulate these clothing collection containers?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian notabigcitygirl's avatar
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    My city calls these things "Small collection facilities" under the category "Recycling Facilites". As such, they are subject to Site Plan Review by the Planning Commission. In addition, the containers must meet several Code contstraints, such as:
    <500 sq. ft.
    setback=10 ft.
    located within 100 ft. of an R zone shall operate only from 9am to 7pm.
    (this one effectively disallows these types of containers in my city)
    I'm not cute enough to have a tag line. :r:

  13. #13
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    We prohibit the boxes in town and let teh property owners know. A lot of the time, the shopping center owners do not want them there but the donation organizations refuse to remove them.
    We tell the property owners that they can remove the boxes however they like, asking the organization to remove it, disposing of it, whatever, as long as its gone.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian mique28's avatar
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    boxes are regulated

    We call these "donation drop off boxes" in our code and they are generally prohibited in the community except for use in conjunction with a principal facility that is in the charitable collection business (Goodwill, Salvation Army). We rolled this regulation into an ordinance that deals with PODS. If you want our ordinance let me know.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Tragic but true.....lasy year a Toledo woman became stuck in a Planet Aid box, pinned under the closure. She died.

    The archived article from The (Toledo) Blade indicates she was reaching into the bin to pull something out.

    Hope this attachment works.

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=TB&p_theme=tb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&s_dispstring=allfields(Planet%20Aid)&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=("Planet%20Aid")&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Funny this has come up just recently ... I drove by one this morning that is within 1/2 mile of my house and it had a huge pile of clothing all around it, strewn everywhere. It looked like someone put boxes of clothes next to the collection box and someone went digging through the boxes to check out the contents. What an eyesore. I'm not sure if Jacksonville regulates them, but as of this morning, I found myself wanting to check into it!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    More on West Toledo woman's death due to Planet Aid clothing donation box lid...

    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Tragic but true.....lasy year a Toledo woman became stuck in a Planet Aid box, pinned under the closure. She died.

    The archived article from The (Toledo) Blade indicates she was reaching into the bin to pull something out.

    Hope this attachment works.

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=TB&p_theme=tb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&s_dispstring=allfields(Planet&#37;20Aid)&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=("Planet%20Aid")&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date&xcal_useweights=no

    Bear

    Bear, you must be referring to this tragedy, reported in the Toledo Blade:
    http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs...WS03/708220405

    Excerpts:
    . . .
    Authorities believe [deceased woman] was reaching into the bin to get something out when the lid shut around her neck and she somehow became pinned.
    . . .

    Dr. Patrick [coroner] said it is clear, however, she died from asphyxia as a result of becoming trapped in the clothing bin.
    . . .
    ...police said no foul play is suspected...
    . . .

    There are about 60 Planet Aid donation bins around the Toledo area, said Doug Bailey, spokesman for the Boston-based organization.

    Mr. Bailey said he doesn't know of any accidents similar to the one that occurred Sunday happening in the 10 years the organization has existed.
    . . .


    My research indicates that the story did not make the national news...
    I wonder why: shouldn't people, including children, know about this hazard?

  18. #18
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mique28 View post
    We call these "donation drop off boxes" in our code and they are generally prohibited in the community except for use in conjunction with a principal facility that is in the charitable collection business (Goodwill, Salvation Army). We rolled this regulation into an ordinance that deals with PODS. If you want our ordinance let me know.
    If you can post it (excluding the municipality name to protect your privacy, if you want), I think a lot of us would be grateful.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  19. #19

    Add me to the list...

    I'd love to see the ordinance too.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mique28's avatar
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    sorry for the delay

    Here is our ordinance... The donation drop boxes are included in an Article regulating PODS. The ordinance has been in place for about 2 years now and has been effective in helping to control PODS and drop boxes. To date we have not had any enforcement issues related to the language although the drop box/PODS problem was not as bad in our community as elsewhere in the metro area. The only thing we might change would actually be related to the PODS, in that we would allow them with limited restriction during time of casualty or disaster.

    Article 33 REGULATING THE USE OF PORTABLE STORAGE STRUCTURES AND DONATION DROP-OFF BOXES

    Section 6-33.01 Definitions

    “Portable Storage Structure” is any container, storage unit, shed-like container or other portable structure, other than an accessory building or shed complying with all building codes and land use requirements, that can or is used for the storage of personal property of any kind and which is located for such purposes outside an enclosed building.

    “Donation Drop-Off Box” is any container, storage unit or structure, other than an accessory building or shed complying with all building codes and land use requirements, that can or is used for the holding of charitable or for profit donations with collection of these donations made at a later date or time and which is located for such purposes outside an enclosed building.

    Section 6-33.02 Portable Storage Structure

    (A) The use of portable storage structures are allowed under the following conditions:

    1. There must be no more than one (1) portable storage structure per property.
    2. The portable storage structure must be no larger than ten (10) feet wide, twenty (20) feet long and ten (10) feet high.
    3. A portable storage structure must not remain at a property in any zoning district in excess of thirty (30) consecutive days, and must not be placed at any one property in a zoning district in excess of thirty (30) days in any calendar year.
    4. The portable storage structure must be set back a minimum of five (5) feet from all property lines.
    5. The portable storage structure must be set back a minimum of five (5) feet from the nearest wall of a building.
    6. The portable storage structure must be placed on an asphaltic concrete surface.
    7. Portable storage structures associated with construction at a site where a building permit has been issued, are permitted for the duration of construction and shall be removed from the site within fourteen (14) days of the end of construction. Portable storage structures associated with construction are exempt from the aforementioned conditions.

    Section 6-33.03 Donation Drop-Off Boxes

    (A) Donation drop-off boxes are prohibited on all public and private property in the Village except under the following conditions:

    1. Donation drop-off boxes are allowed on property where the primary structure is used by a not for profit organization, as defined by the Wisconsin State Statutes and the box is used exclusively to support said organization.
    2. The drop boxes must be placed within the buildable area of the lot in an interior side or rear yard and screened from view of any public right of way.
    3. There must be no more than two (2) drop boxes per property.
    4. The drop box must be no larger six (6) feet wide, six (6) feet deep and eight (8) feet high.
    5. All donations must be fully enclosed in a donation drop-off box. Donations that are not fully enclosed in a donation drop-off box are considered a public nuisance and subject to removal by the Village at the owner’s expense.


    Hope this helps!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    These things are a menace over here too. They attract dumping of goods that don't fit in them, if not regularly serviced they overflow, and they are subject to vandalism that leads to their contents beign spread around the street or despoiled (think setting them alight).

    We are partly combatting the bins by providing an alternative service - details here (it's supposedly a world first); http://www.lifecyclehunter.com.au/index.php. The charities still get free access to the collected goods so despite some early resistance there is a fair deal of acceptance from them now (one is holding on to their belligerence).

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Samples of Clothing Bin Code - NY, NJ, MA

    * Hempstead, T. NY: Ch. 106

    Cinnaminson, Twp., NJ: Ch. 405

    Huntington, T., NY: Ch. 92

    Clifton, C. NJ: Ch. 205

    **New Hyde Park, T., NY: Ch. 196

    Bergenfield, B,, NJ: Ch. 239


    Ridgefield, B., NJ: Ch. 319

    Passaic, C., NJ: Chapter 125

    Pittsfield, C., MA, Sec. 3-4.16



    *The Town of Hempstead, Long Island, has a population of @765,000 (2007), and being adjacent to Queens, NYC, is very near me. I have witnessed numerous violations of this code but can not say at this time how many have been corrected.

    **The Town of New Hyde Park is not actually a town--it's an incorporated village of population roughly 10,000. While it's not in NYC, it lies in a zip code zone that extends into Queens, NYC, and is therefore very near me. The village is so small and the residents so vigilant that there are very few code violators.

  23. #23
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    we were looking for more information about how other localities handle these boxes and i wanted to thank you all for providing pictures and examples.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by seramental View post
    we were looking for more information about how other localities handle these boxes and i wanted to thank you all for providing pictures and examples.
    From all of us Cyburbians, you're welcome, and there will be more...
    ...more offenses and a lot more legislation.



    BTW, welcome to Cyburbia.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    In some ways, collection boxes look and function much like garbage dumpsters. They often overflow, too, with dumped clothing, furniture and appliances around the box.


    Yep. These things should absolutely be prohibited IMO.

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