TWINSBURG — City planners are considering adding regulations to the zoning code governing the placement and use of donation boxes, such as Salvation Army, Goodwill and gently-used donation sites for non-profits that often sit at the backs of parking lots.

"These regulations are proposed to enable the city to better control these boxes and make property owners and bin operators responsible for their upkeep," said Director of Planning and Community Development Larry Finch.

"It’s primarily an administrative issue," added City Planner Lynn Muter. "We want to have ownership and contact information for the bins and assurance that proper permission was granted by property owners."

Planning Commission Chair Marc Coehn says some existing locations where the boxes are placed are unsightly and are having maintenance problems. This will allow the city to regulate locations, screening and upkeep of existing and future charitable donation bin locations.

"The intent is not to prevent them, but to make sure they are placed in appropriate locations and look acceptable, not just at the time of installation but also ongoing," Coehn said.

Finch outlined the proposed zoning code section to planning commission members March 5. No action was taken.

As proposed, the zoning code protects "the aesthetic well-being of the community and promote(s) the clean and orderly appearance of developed property."

The provisions also would provide legal remedies for prohibited or poorly maintained donation boxes "that threaten the aesthetic quality and orderly development of the city."

The new regulations would prohibit the placement of any donation box without obtaining a permit, and allow the city to impound a box which doesn’t have a valid permit or if the city issues more than two notices of a violation in a 12-month span.

Boxes would only be permitted in non-residential zoning districts or on institutional properties in residential districts, and the locations must be properly screened.

Permits must be obtained from the building commissioner and no more than one box could be placed on any single lot. Minimum screening would be a 6-foot solid wood fence located no more than 2 feet from the box.

Boxes would have to be made of metal and must be painted one solid color, and a separate permit is required for each box, with an annual permit fee, to be set by Council.

Permits would not be transferrable, and the permit holder would be responsible for maintenance, upkeep and servicing of the box, including cleanup and removal of donations left outside it.

Boxes would be required to have at least one parking space beside it. All boxes would be used for collection of clothing and household goods, and they must be at least 200 feet from a residential district.

The planned regulations include a provision for appeal if a zoning code violation is issued relative to the box, including either the permit holder removing the box in a set period or the city impounding it.

If a permit is revoked, no second or additional permit could be issued within one year. Violators of the donation box regulations could be fined up to $500, and each day the violation continues would be a separate offense.

The planning panel also is considering revisions to zoning code sections dealing with tree and vegetation protection and landscaping.

"These are suggested to remove ambiguities and conflicts with other code sections," said Lynch.

The planning commission’s next meeting is March 19 at 7 p.m.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com