The overflowing donation canisters seen in many shopping centers in the area may become more scarce, thanks to new regulations passed by the Leesburg Town Council last week, including a $250 fee to place those boxes.
Council members had decried the donation boxes as a nuisance. They appear seemingly overnight on shopping center property, often without the owner’s consent. Many of these boxes are also seen with items scattered on the ground around them.
Town staff members proposed a series of amendments to the town’s Zoning Ordinance to cut down on the visual clutter. Council members took some of those a step further, including imposing a $250 zoning permit fee that must be paid by the owner of the donation box after receiving property owner consent to place the box in a specific location.
The new regulations also specify where such donation boxes are not permitted, including within public rights-of-way, within a required off-street parking space, or a pedestrian path, among others. Donation boxes are prohibited in residential districts, unless the principal use of the property is a permitted institutional and community use, such as a church. The boxes are also prohibited in the downtown B-1 district and the Crescent Design District.
The council also agreed to a collection schedule that requires donated items be picked up on a biweekly basis, unless otherwise agreed upon by the zoning administrator.
According to Zoning Administrator Mike Watkins, 90% or more of the donation boxes currently in the town limits are not compliant with the new regulations.
Some council members contemplated prohibiting donation boxes in town altogether, but ultimately the council decided to see if the regulations would create compliance and, thus, a more attractive appearance for the boxes. Under the adopted ordinance, the regulations will remain in effect until Jan. 25, 2023, with the council expected to review them ahead of that date.
“Put it on your calendar, a year from now we want to hear back,” Mayor Kelly Burk said to Watkins after the vote.
The measure passed 6-0-1, with Vice Mayor Marty Martinez absent for the Jan. 25 vote.