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New Berlin collects concerns about drop-off boxes

Messy donation containers could be regulated, or even banned

Feb. 17, 2014

New Berlin — Some might say the problem is human kindness overflowing while others might say simply see an unsightly mess, but New Berlin is now going to work on regulating or banning drop-off donation boxes.

The Plan Commission this month gave the go-ahead for the city's Code Committee to look into two options: banning the boxes altogether or regulating them.

The city, which currently has no regulations for such containers, has gotten several complaints from people who have seen items overflowing from the collection boxes, said Nikki Jones, New Berlin city planning services manager.

Growing concern

Jones said other communities have taken up the issue, going so far as banning the drop-off boxes. In fact, she even speculated that New Berlin might be ending up with more boxes because some nearby communities don't allow them.

"It seems there's a lot them all of a sudden," Jones said.

City officials have located 12 drop-off boxes locally, so far. And it isn't just one organization putting them up, she said.

Without regulations, the boxes can be put up without city approval or even knowledge and some in places the city wouldn't approve, Jones said. For example, some are taking up parking spots and some are in right of ways.

Worth a look

Members on the Plan Commission concurred that the issue deserves consideration, if only to make sure they are put in the right locations.

"Putting them in the right of way can cause problems," said Plan Commission member Scott Billar.

Some commission members seemed dubious about the boxes.

"I can see the good of these drop-off boxes but I think what's happening sometimes is they're turning into a disposal dump-offs," Commissioner Brian Felda said.

Commissioner Robert Rafel express worry about the consequences of a cigarette tossed into such a box.

"I can see the possibility of vandalism," he said.

The Code Committee, separate from the Plan Commission, can recommend what standard the city should set for drop-off boxes. The issue would eventually also be addressed by the Plan Commission. Any code change would ultimately have to be approved by the Common Council.

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