Lee’s Summit proposal would regulate donation bins

rpulley@lsjournal.comNovember 1, 2013 

Lee’s Summit may soon be regulating donation bins for not-for-profit charities.

The Community and Economic Development Committee voted 3-1 Oct. 30 to send a proposed ordinance to the full City Council.

Under the new rules, only one donation bin would be allowed on a property, and charities would be required to have schedules for emptying the bins at least once a month. Only not-for-profits would be allowed to place the bins inside the city limits.

The ordinance covers the metal bins used to collect, clothing, shoes, or other items that often are resold by thrift shops to benefit the charities.

Both the non-profit owning the bin and the property owner would be responsible for making sure the area around the bin is free of trash and junk.

The ordinance does not include recycling bins– such as those for paper.

A count earlier this year, by city staff, found between 70 and 80 donation bins scattered around the city, some at charities’ locations and others placed on sites with owner’s permission.

Councilmember Rob Binney had asked for the committee to consider such an ordinance because a few of the bins were not being cared for properly and were unsightly. He also wanted to insure the bins were being used by charities, not by for-profit businesses.

A draft ordinance proposed by city staff allowed more bins per property in some cases, but Binney asked the committee to tighten that rule to one. Council members Allan Gray and Derek Holland voted yes with Binney to change that restriction and send the proposed ordinance to the full council. Chairman David Mosby voted no.

Scott Blomquist, president of Team Thrift, a Lee’s Summit company which operates Red Racks stores in association with the Disabled American Veterans, said he agrees the bins need to be regulated.

He said he thinks the proposed restriction of one bin per property might be too restrictive. The Lee’s Summit Red Racks has two.

Blomquist said there’s a big demand for recycling clothes and usually an organization starts with one bin at a site. If it is filling quickly it adds another.

“If there is a limit of just one bin, it won’t meet the demand for donations. It will create what they’re trying to avoid, people will leave donations outside, where they can be ruined by rain, or people will be rummaging through them.”

He said some properties, such as SummitWoods Crossing, have an area for bins from several charities which gives donors a choice of organization to support.

Bob McKay, director of planning and development, said more cities are beginning to permit and regulate the bins to insure the don’t become unsightly.

Binney also suggested setting a $100 fee for each bin that could go into a fund to supplement Community Development Block Grants to help non-profits.

Deputy City Attorney John Mautino said such user fees are restricted by law to amounts reasonably needed to cover the cost of processing the permits, otherwise it could be considered a tax.

He said the city staff would need to research what it costs the city to process a permit application, such as verifying not-for-profit status and other tasks. McKay said other cities had set the fee at $25.

The fee question is to be decided and voted on in a separate ordinance that revises the city’s schedule of fees.

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