The collection bins that people fill with donations of shoes and clothes are a familiar sight around the community.
For the most part, they help local charities that operate thrift stores or have giveaway programs to benefit low-income individuals and families.
In most cases, they’re clean, well marked and routinely emptied.
But, not always. And now, the Pasco County Commission and the Zephyrhills City Council are ready to clamp down on those bins that quickly become illegal dumpsites, and eyesores for the community.
Many of the bins that become dump sites appear to be operated by organizations seeking clothing items to sell.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore came to a February commission meeting with photographic proof of the problem.
“What happens is a lot of organizations will collect items and sell them on the open market,” Moore said. “You’ll see people abandon the bins at times, and at times they don’t make regular collections.”
Pasco County staff members are reviewing ordinances from Deerfield Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa and Manatee County as models for a local draft ordinance to bring to county commissioners.
The city of Zephyrhills also is considering an ordinance to curb similar illegal dumping issues at bins within city limits. City Councilman Lance Smith put the topic on the council’s March 14 agenda.
Within the next month a draft ordinance should be ready for the city council’s review.
Smith’s first encounter with the issue came about two years ago when he spotted a rusty looking donation bin in the right of way by Woodland Elementary School. Code enforcement removed it.
Not every clothing bin is creating eyesores, but Smith said, “When someone leaves a mattress, the next thing it’s a television. It becomes a dumping ground.”
With Pasco County poised to adopt an ordinance, Smith said it makes sense for Zephyrhills to do the same.
Recently, code enforcement investigated a complaint about illegal dumping at a bin at the Winn-Dixie shopping center on County Road 54. The property owner was notified, said Bill Burgess, Zephyrhills’ building code administrator.
“They had it cleaned up and, I believe, thereafter removed,” Burgess said.
He recalled another bin that from a distance looked legitimate. On closer inspection, it was made of plywood and hand-painted. It had no contact or identifying information.
Draft ordinances for Pasco and Zephyrhills likely would require registration and set standards for maintenance and operation.
Moore said Pasco’s ordinance could require that the bins be clearly marked with a business name, a contact phone number and rules on keeping areas around the bins cleared. Written permission from property owners also should be required, he said.
Moore said he heard from one landowner who told him that over the past years he has had to remove bins and illegally dumped materials from his properties, at a cost of hundreds of dollars.
The ordinance isn’t meant to make money for the county or to hamper businesses, property owners and agencies that act responsibly, Moore said.
“The last thing we want to do is hurt legitimate charities,” Moore said. “We want them to keep doing what they’re doing.”
Published March 23, 2016