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Leesburg Looks to Regulate Donation Boxes

Donation boxes stand in the Battlefield Center shopping plaza at the intersection of Edwards Ferry Rd. and the Leesburg Bypass. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

The Leesburg Town Council is hoping to cut down on overflowing—and at times unwanted—donation boxes popping up throughout town.

According to a staff report, town staff has been receiving complaints from property owners of local shopping centers regarding donation boxes that seemingly pop up overnight. The large containers serve as collection points for donations of clothing, shoes or even books for organizations with either a local or national presence. However, many times these donation boxes have been showing up on shopping center property without property owner consent, and the cost to remove the bins is borne by the property owner. It is also not uncommon to see them overflowing, with donations spilling onto the parking lots, and susceptible to damage from weather elements. 

Leesburg does not currently have any zoning regulations governing these donation boxes, Zoning Administrator Michael Watkins advised the council this week. 

Mayor Kelly Burk recalled one instance where a donation box showed, unwanted and unannounced, up on the property of a local nonprofit’s thrift store, taking possible donations away from them. She also said she has heard from the local nonprofit community that, more often than not, the donations collected in these boxes do not support local residents. 

“This is not a new issue, this is something that’s been on the radar for awhile,” she said. “I think we’re being taken advantage of by a particular group now that’s very aggressive in just putting them anyplace.”

Tuesday night, the council unanimously initiated amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to define and create use standards for donation boxes. These potential changes will go before both the Planning Commission for review, and back to the Town Council for approval.