The Geneva City Council seems inclined to allow free-standing collection boxes, such as those for clothing and books, but with rules about where they can be placed and how they have to be maintained.
The council, meeting as a committee of the whole this week, has asked city staff members to write an amendment to the zoning ordinance, prohibiting placement of the boxes in parking lots, but allowing them to be placed next to buildings. The amendment would also require box owners to obtain a $250 annual permit, post a schedule for pickup of items, and require box owners to get the permission of a property's owner to place a box. Both the box owner and the property owner would be responsible for making sure they are kept neat and clean, per aldermen's request.
The Geneva Plan Commission had recommended the boxes be prohibited, accept as accessory uses. Under its recommendation, only the property or store owner could own the box, and the items collected would have to be related to the business or group's main purpose.
The permit fee would go to paying for staff time spent processing applications, checking the boxes and responding to complaints about them.
Staff members raised the issue to the council in April, noting that the boxes have proliferated in some shopping center parking lots. At that time one center on Randall Road had seven in its parking lot and one on the sidewalk near a store.
Mattias Wallander, of unincorporated Geneva, urged the council to allow the boxes. Wallander and his wife own USAgain, a West Chicago-based textiles and clothing recycling business. "Textiles is kind of the forgotten child of recycling," he said, saying that 5 to 10 percent of waste disposed of in Illinois consists of textiles. "We are competing with the waste can."
USAgain resells some of the collected clothing and textiles; other items are recycled into other items, such as insulation and cleaning rags. Having collection boxes available all day, every day, is important, he said.
"The driving force for recycling, like many activities, is convenience," he said.
Wallander supports requirements such as getting a city permit and getting landowners' permission.
The committee of the whole will revisit the issue Oct. 8.