Q&A with Mike West, Assistant City Planner, City of Portage, Michigan
1. When was the ordinance adopted and what was the legislative process like?
The City of Portage Collection Box Ordinance was adopted in March 2013 after an approximate six-month research/review period. The legislative process followed Michigan statute and began with the Planning Commission developing the draft ordinance language and City Council subsequently approving the final ordinance language.
2. If there was any opposition to the ordinance, does it continue to this day?
Initially and during the development of the ordinance language, there were comments and concerns expressed Planning Commissioners, City Council members, citizens and the collection box companies. However, since adoption and implementation of the ordinance there has been no stated opposition or concerns.
3. Are there still too many collection boxes littering the streets of Portage, or persistent issues of maintenance and upkeep?
Prior to adoption of the ordinance (February 2013), there were approximately 30 collections boxes at 22 locations with several complaints regarding maintenance and upkeep. After adoption and enforcement of the ordinance, there are currently 17 collection boxes at 12 locations with no current or outstanding complaints regarding maintenance and upkeep.
4. Did the ordinance enable the City to remove problem box operators?
Adoption of the ordinance established clear expectations and requirements for collection box operators and property owners, minimum distance separations between collections boxes and a standardized review and permitting process. As stated above, the result has been a reduction in both the total number of collection boxes and the locations where collection boxes are situated.
5. How have the remaining collection box operators fared under the ordinance?
There are currently three different collection box companies operating in the City of Portage (Planet Aid, Better World Books and ATRS) and I have not heard any complaints or concerns voiced by these companies. There have also been no ongoing maintenance or upkeep concerns regarding these existing collection box locations.