MANATEE -- Unattended donation boxes on public property or public rights of way officially become prohibited in unincorporated Manatee County on Wednesday.
The county's ordinance banning these donation boxes, which the commission approved in May, goes into effect Wednesday. The ordinance came back before the commission in June with clearer language and was approved.
According to the ordinance, an unattended donation box is defined as "any container, storage unit or structure ... that can or is used for the holding of charitable or for non-profit donations such as clothing, toys or other salvageable personal property with collection of these donations made at a later date or time and which is located for such purposes outside an enclosed building."
Jeff Bowman, the county's code enforcement chief, said in a news release that the ordinance will help the county "fight blight by removing the boxes from public areas and places where they don't have a property owner's consent."
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"We want to allow (donation boxes) by regulating them in a responsible way so as not to create blight on properties, traffic safety issues because their being place in the right-of-ways, and to prevent the unauthorized placement of them on properties," Bowman said in the release.
While the donation boxes are prohibited on public property, the boxes may be allowed on some private property if the primary structure on the property is used by a nonprofit and the box is used exclusively for that organization. The box must also be in good condition, locked and have no advertisements except for the identity of the nonprofit, according to the ordinance.
If an unattended donation box is violating the ordinance, county staff will hold the box for 30 days or until claimed, according to the ordinance. Properties with existing unattended donation boxes have until Wednesday to come into compliance.
The ordinance states that unattended donation boxes can be "aesthetically unpleasing and can cause safety hazards and blight upon neighborhoods and locations."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.