GR: Donations Bins Outside Businesses Banned

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-05 19:16:06-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donation bins that sit outside of Grand Rapids businesses are illegal, according to city planning director Suzanne Schulz.

The city looks to enforce an ordinance that’s already on the books. The bins have nothing to do with the businesses. This is considered a “secondary use,” which is illegal.

“One of the reasons we didn’t enforce for so long was because we hadn’t received a lot of complaints because we tend to be complaint driven,” Schulz explained.

“…we don’t have the staff resources to go out and look for every little thing,” she added. Schulz said the bins are causing complaints, and seven different organizations with containers around the city have been told to move them within 21 days.

“The complaints are by citizens, residents, business owners that we’ve heard from,” Schulz said.

“We’ve had issues where certain locations have become dumping sites, where people are actually dropping off furniture and other household goods. So you see a mountain of trash next to these containers,” she explained.

Schulz explained that containers on the corner can block a driver’s view and create a hazard. Also, local non-profit organizations like the Salvation Army feel a pinch on donations.

FOX 17 spoke with Rob Pierce. He’s the operations manager for the Salvation Army in Grand Rapids.

“It’s a little disconcerting when they pop up, and they’re not from this area. There are plenty of bins like us, Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul and that are for the West Michigan community that support the West Michigan community, and these bins do not,” Pierce explained.

He agrees with the ordinance, but the Salvation Army isn’t immune to it. The organization has to remove a couple of boxes of its own from area businesses.

“Yea, we’re a little disappointed that we’re going to have to get rid of a couple of bins, but we’re only going to lose a couple, and I think overall it’s a good thing. Some of these bins, as we’ve seen, are a mess, and I think they detract from the local charities from their bins with what they’re doing,” Pierce said.

Schulz said businesses will be given a courtesy notice. They’ll have 21 days to remove the bins. After that, they’ll be given a hundred dollar ticket if they don’t comply.