Clothing Collection Boxes to Face Tighter Rules in Fairfax County

Collection boxes at South Lakes Village Center

Clothing donation boxes have become standard features at Reston and Fairfax County shopping center parking lots. They make quick work for cleaning out your closets and dropping off items that a non-profit can distribute to others in need.

But often the boxes become a dumping ground for furniture, books, mattresses and other castoffs. The boxes — and overflowing items — can also block routes through a parking lot.

That is why Fairfax County wants to put new rules in place. County officials have consulted with Planet Aid, a nonprofit that uses donation boxes to collect used clothes, and the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association to come up with new guidelines to curb the parking lot clutter.

The boxes are currently not covered by any county zoning rules, officials say. Instead, Fairfax County has applied its rules for secondary structures like garden sheds or garages.

The recommended new ordinance says that the boxes:

  • May not be larger than seven feet tall, six feet wide or six feet long.
  • Are limited to two boxes per property in an area not to exceed a total of 120 square feet.
  • Must be made of weather-proof, noncombustible materials.
  • Must get regular collection with no items left outside the boxes.
  • Must list the following information on the outside of the box: name and telephone number of the owner/operator, the items for collection, and a statement prohibiting liquids and dumping.
  • May only be placed on certain commercial properties, like shopping centers, that are 40,000 square feet or larger; in any commercial area of a planned district when shown on an approved development plan; and in any residential district on lots with a non-residential principal use, like a church, or in conjunction with approval for another use by a special permit, special exception or proffered rezoning and only when shown on an approved development plan.

Photo: Clothing collection boxes at South Lakes Village Center.

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