Proposed Dalton ordinance could crack down on unkept donation boxes

Charles Oliver/Daily Citizen-News

People are asked to drop off clothes and shoes in this donation box on Glenwood Avenue but they have also been discarding household debris there as well.

DALTON, Ga. — The sign on the donation box on Glenwood Avenue clearly says "clothing & shoes collection."

But scattered around the overflowing box are a broken door, empty containers of weedkiller and antifreeze, an empty paint can, all or part of at least three computer printers and a large plush toy that appears to have been there through a few rainfalls, as well as shoes and clothing that may or may not be wearable.

When a reporter tried to call the number on the box, which has a Tennessee area code, the call went into a voicemail system. No one immediately returned a message left Monday afternoon. The website listed on the box no longer seems to work.

Dalton City Council member Gary Crews says that isn't unusual.

"We've had a lot of complaints from citizens. We've had complaints from property owners," he said. "These boxes are placed by people from out of town. They often place them in areas where it isn't clear who owns the property. They don't maintain them regularly and stuff starts to pile up outside the boxes, and when you try to call and get the box removed it can be difficult to reach anyone."

Members of the City Council on Monday held the first reading of an ordinance aimed at reducing such eyesores. The proposal would require those placing donation bins inside city limits to obtain a license. It would require the bin owners to provide their contact information and to file a plan stating how often materials will be removed from the bins and how often the boxes will be checked for "general cleanliness, graffiti and litter or other rubbish."

The proposed ordinance also states such boxes can only be placed in areas zoned commercial and cannot be placed on empty or abandoned properties, and the owner of the property must certify that permission has been granted to place the box there.

The boxes must clearly identify the organization responsible for maintaining them, state the items to be placed in them and specify that nothing is to be left outside the box and it is not to be used to dispose of garbage.

The owners of the boxes would also have to pay a license fee that would be determined by the City Council.

"We want to make sure that the people who place these boxes have the permission of the property owner and they will maintain them regularly," said council member Denise Wood.

The council is expected to hold a second reading and vote on the measure at a future meeting.

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