Howard County Times
Howard County

Laurel council approves donation bin law

The Laurel City Council voted Monday to approve the latest version of an ordinance regulating the appearance and dispersement of street-side donation bins throughout the city.

The approval is a long time coming for the ordinance, which was introduced to the council last summer. The original iteration of the bill was tabled by the council after objections from bin operators in the city, most notably from the Elkridge-based nonprofit Planet Aid.


A donation bin is an unattended container placed by organizations, traditionally nonprofits, for the purpose of collecting unwanted material goods, like textiles, shoes, clothes, etc. The collection agency then repurposes the donated goods.

The ordinance, which was approved unanimously, requires bin operators to apply for permits with the city's Department of Community Planning and Business Services, and places requirements on the location, appearance and condition of the bins.


The ordinance will go into effect on May 29.

"This has taken quite a lengthy time and a lot of discussions and research. I think everyone gave a little bit, but this bill is going to help clean up some of the areas of concern," Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said.

A Planet Aid spokesperson testified in favor of the ordinance.

The ordinance stipulates that the height of the bins be restricted to 8 feet, there be no more than four bins on one property, and bins cannot be placed in residential zones.

The council made a late change to the law at a Monday work session that allows bins to be placed in the city's historic district. The bins in the district have to be enclosed on three sides by an opaque enclosure, and the city's Historic District Commission will be responsible for making sure operators are compliant with the law.