Sep. 20—Three years ago, Dalton City Council members approved a law requiring organizations placing donation boxes in the city to obtain an annual license. The goal was to reduce unsightly materials piling up outside the boxes. City officials said the law did reduce such messes, but it didn't completely eliminate them.
On Monday, the City Council members held the first reading of an ordinance that would end the license for donation boxes.
"These groups would still be able to take donations," said City Administrator Andrew Parker. "They would just have to do it inside, have some business agree to allow them to place them inside. This is part of our effort to improve the city's curb appeal and make it more attractive."
The boxes are where donated items such as clothes and shoes are supposed to be left. But city officials said the groups that put them in place don't tend to maintain them and they are often used as places to dispose of household items or trash.
"The vendors often do not maintain them," said Parker. "They are unsightly and potentially a health hazard."
To receive a license, an organization must provide the city with information on how to contact the organization, and detail how and how often items will be removed from the bins. They also must document how many times the boxes will be checked for "general cleanliness, graffiti and litter or other rubbish." The boxes can only be placed in commercially-zoned areas, and can't be put on empty or abandoned properties. The property owner must certify permission has been granted to place the box there.
"What we have found is that the groups placing these donations boxes are often from out of town and even out of state," said Parker.
The fee is $50 per box.
Violators can be fined up to $1,000 and will have their license suspended for up to 60 days. A second violation within a year brings license suspension of up to 180 days, and three strikes within five years can cause a violator to lose its license for up to five years.
When the law passed there were 24 in 13 locations.
Parker said there are currently about a half dozen boxes in the city. He said he could not immediately say where they are located.
"I have no problem getting rid of them," council member Annalee Sams said during a recent meeting of the city Finance Committee in which Parker discussed the proposed ordinance. The Finance Committee is composed of the council members.
Other council members at that meeting also indicated they would support the proposed ordinance.
If the council passes the proposed law, current licenses will expire at the end of the year and cannot be renewed.
The council members could vote on the proposed ordinance as soon as their Monday, Oct. 3, meeting.