London sets rules for unmanned donation bins

(Posted Dec. 7, 2016)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

For the past year, Rex Castle has been on a mission to regulate unmanned charitable donation sites in the city of London, many of which have become dumping grounds for trash.

On Dec. 1, Castle and his fellow city council members accomplished that mission, unanimously passing regulations for placement, quantity, and clean-up of bins set up for collection of donated clothing and household items.

“Unfortunately, it’s not totally the charitable organizations’ fault, but the problem is they are unmanned, so people do whatever they want,” he said, referring to items, some unsuitable for donation, piling up outside the bins.

“It is an eyesore, but beyond that, my fear is it could potentially be a health hazard, attracting rats or containing bedbugs,” he continued.

Castle first introduced legislation on the issue in the fall of 2015, calling for a ban on all unmanned charitable donation sites. Later, Zahid Siddiqi, the city’s law director, learned of a case in which a charitable organization sued a municipality with a similar ban and won based on discrimination. Seeing the potential for unwinnable lawsuits, the city of London rescinded its ban on the bins.

Last month, Castle came back to council with a new approach—regulation. The rules now are as follows:

  • Before an unmanned collection site is placed, the organization must complete a registration form and pay an annual license fee of $25 per bin.
  • The number of unmanned bins allowed per organization is limited to one for every 5,000 residents in the city. The city’s population currently sits at right around 10,000.
  • Bins must sit a minimum of 200 feet from the nearest curb on a public street.
  • If the organization or property owner does not remove solid waste that piles up at the site within five days of notification from the city, the Board of Public Utilities will remove the waste. The cost of removal will be assessed to the organization or property owner.

“The regulation will limit the number of sites that people can potentially dump at and where the sites are,” Castle said. “They’ll be at the back of lots, instead of right up front at the street. We don’t want people driving through London to have their first impression of our city be trash piled up along the streets.”

When Castle first proposed the regula-tions in early November, five unmanned charitable donation bins existed in the city: at Family Dollar on West High Street, at London Food Mart on East High Street, and at the Crown Sports Lounge, Kmart and Walmart properties on Lafayette Street.

“We’re now down to one or two,” Castle said. The others have been removed.

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