Clothing donation bins around Middletown are becoming unsightly, and the local guidelines meant to keep them orderly must be better enforced, a Township Committee member said this week.
Of all the bins around town, only two are properly registered with the township clerk’s office as required by ordinance. Many are overflowing and have become dumping sites for unwanted items including baby seats and carpeting, according to Committeeman Anthony Fiore.
“They’re just running rampant right now,” he said at a regular committee meeting Monday night.
The township took steps to control donation bins in 2010, passing an ordinance requiring registration and setting forth operational guidelines. But, those rules are largely ignored and enforcement has been difficult since code officials have been tied up with Superstorm Sandy recovery.
“Clearly they’re not being followed,” Fiore said. “We’ve got to do something in terms of enforcing this ordinance.”
Applicants—save for charitable organizations registered in town—must pay a yearly $25 registration fee. Bins must be placed in safe locations, away from gas pumps and not interfering with vehicle traffic in parking lots, according to the ordinance.
Clerk Heidi Brunt has spent an “inordinate” amount of time trying to get bin owners to comply with the ordinance, officials said.
“When you have a lot of them, people start to think of them as a dumping ground,” said Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante, who noted that one such bin is located at Middletown’s train station.
Should there be complaints about bins, a Zoning Officer is required to investigate within 30 days. If violations are not corrected within 45 days, the township can remove the bin at the owner’s expense and a fine of up to $20,000 can be issued, according to the ordinance.
Fiore said that unsightly bins—including some that may be placed by “questionable” organizations—should be addressed soon.
“We really need to get a handle on this as the new year comes up,” Fiore said. “It’s a quality of life issue.”