A company that puts up clothing donation boxes asked Ravenna City Council to regulate the business rather than legislate it out of existence.
Council held a public hearing Monday on an ordinance that would make all clothing donation boxes illegal. The legislation is in response to complaints from people who said the boxes went up without permission of the property owners, and that the companies could not be reached to empty or remove the box. The ordinance is on second reading, and is expected to be approved in April.
Patrick Kearney, operations manager for Planet Aid, said his company has been in Ravenna since 2008 and has seven boxes in the city. He said the company's boxes are "maintained at a very high level" and blames competitors for "giving us a bad name."
He said the company sells its donated items in bulk, sending the materials to Europe, but uses the proceeds from the sale to benefit charitable causes. When a school agrees to put a box up, that school gets a portion of the proceeds.
He said Northfield considered similar legislation, and instead agreed to regulate the industry, requiring a toll-free number to be posted on the box, requiring companies to maintain the boxes and imposing a registration fee.
Councilwoman Amy Michael said she doesn't want to see the boxes in the city's downtown, and asked Kearney if Planet Aid helps local charities.
"My main concern is the city of Ravenna," she said.
In other business, council discussed the removal of traffic signals at East Main and Clinton streets, near the old Ravenna High School, and at West Spruce and South Sycamore Streets, near the former Immaculate Conception school.
City Engineer Bob Finney said since the schools are gone, the signals are no longer warranted. The city must make a decision by the time its contract with Honeywell is finalized by the end of the year.
Councilman Frank Seman said he was surprised at the size of the new signals that are going up, and Finney said the boxes are made to accommodate battery back-up.
Mayor Joseph Bica said the battery back-up is "going to be crucial," since the city has to send a crew to major intersections whenever there is a power outage.
The issue of adding a dispatcher to the city's police department was not discussed. Bica said the issue will be brought up at council's finance committee meeting on March 18.
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