Flowery Branch is looking at regulating, if not banning, donation drop boxes.
“It seems like something that would be helpful in terms of cleaning up the town,” city planner John McHenry told Flowery Branch City Council Thursday night.
The city has eight such boxes, where people can drop off clothing and other items for charity, scattered at different locations around town, officials said.
“It seems like an awful lot for a city our size,” City Manager Bill Andrew said. “My feeling is there’s a Goodwill (of North Georgia site) in Oakwood and a Salvation Army (thrift store) on Atlanta Highway, where a lot of this work can be done, perhaps more legitimately.
“I guess I feel like these (boxes) can become what they call attractive nuisances. We’ve seen people going through them, rather than putting things in them, and they’re trying to take things out.”
City Attorney Ron Bennett said some appellate courts have said such bins have constitutionally protected commercial speech, “so there may not be a full ban (that could be placed on them), but you are certainly allowed to regulate them.”
McHenry said the city of Lilburn had regulated drop boxes, but then decided to ban them.
“If we have to keep them, I’ll all for permitting them, with regulations,” Councilman Fred Richards said.
Bennett said he would check to see what Lilburn did in
“My recommendation would be to prohibit them outright,” McHenry said. “And if we can’t, we’ll regulate them.”
Mayor Mike Miller asked McHenry to work with Bennett and bring back a recommendation.
In other business, the council gave its final OK to an ordinance cracking down on “aggressive” panhandling and people regularly camping out in public places, such as streets and sidewalks.
Officials have said the activity has been picking up recently, particularly around the Stonebridge Village shopping center off Spout Springs and Hog Mountain roads.
Spurring the ordinance was an increase in calls from residents and business owners about people begging for money and sleeping in public places.
The ordinance doesn’t affect “a legitimate sales endeavor,” Bennett has said. “We have an ordinance that allows you to get a license to sell door to door.”
But “you can have a license and still be an aggressive solicitor, and that would run afoul of this ordinance,” he said.