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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tensions high as Largo commissioners discuss donation bin regulations

The frustration on the dais was palpable at a commission meeting Tuesday night as discussion brewed over how to regulate … donation bins.

Yes, those big containers that you’ve probably seen in parking lots around town that you can drop your unwanted clothes into.

The bins have been a topic of discussion for months after commissioners noticed they were often unattended and created a nuisance. They requested that city staff write up a formal policy to regulate them. A draft was brought in March to commissioners, who then bumped it on to the planning board. 

Board members unanimously denied the ordinance for several reasons, according to meeting minutes. Requirements that bins must be constructed on a concrete slab with a “permanent, opaque” enclosure could become an expense that discourages property owners from putting them there to begin with. 

There was also some concern about the strain it would put on code enforcement, which has recently had to create a special position to deal with case overflow. Some board members questioned whether already-existing rules could be used to clean up the bins.

In other words: Is this really necessary?

Fast forward to Tuesday night, when an ordinance amended to address the board’s concerns went before commissioners. A motion was on the floor to move it forward, but Commissioner Michael Smith jumped in before the vote, saying he wanted the planning board to see it again.

"I would like ... the courtesy to be able to put it back and say, ‘Hey we took your recommendations. Are you satisfied?’” he said.

Vice Mayor Jamie Robinson, who seconded the motion, jumped in, pointing out that the ordinance wouldn’t make it back to the commission until August at that rate.

"I don’t want to withdraw the motion because I don't want to do this again," he said. “Normally I take any of our board's recommendations to heart, and that's exactly why I don't understand why we have to go back to the planning board... when their recommendations are exactly how we got to where we are today.”

In the end, commissioners voted 6-1, with Smith dissenting, to approve the ordinance. The final reading will occur June 21, which, as Commissioner Curtis Holmes said, gives anyone with objections to the ordinance time to air them to the commission.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 2:18pm]


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