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Donation Bin Ordinances: A compromise between protecting commercial speech and reasonable governmental regulations.

In early 2013, the City of Portage, Michigan announced that it was considering the issue of clothing donation bins and a proposed ordinance regulating the same. At the time, few municipalities had investigated the issue, and the City was unsure of what action to take. Acting on behalf of Planet Aid, a global non-profit organization that operates donation bins, Dalton & Tomich engaged City officials in an open and beneficial dialogue about donation bins.

In March 2013, the City passed an ordinance regulating donation bins. The ordinance, which is attached here, regulates donation bins based on material, maintenance and upkeep, the rights and responsibilities of a site host, and placement in the community. The ordinance struck a fair balance between the First Amendment rights of the donation bin operators and the legitimate concerns of the City. The ordinance also established a permit system for donation bins. Throughout the dialogue, Dalton & Tomich was able to correctly inform and educate the City that a ban of donation bins would be unconstitutional.

In this case, Dalton & Tomich was able to facilitate an outcome that was successful for both parties without litigation. These types of solutions often leave the best working relationship between the two parties and are often the most cost-effective for clients. As a testament to the success of this case, the Portage donation bin ordinance has been used as a model for donation bin ordinances around the country.

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