WAYNE, NJ – An ordinance was posed at this week’s Wayne Town Council meeting bringing the ban on clothing bins throughout the Township one step closer.
Councilman-At-Large Joe Schweighardt who is leading the charge on the ban, spoke at length as to why he feels the clothing bins need to go. He began with a caveat that he and the rest of the council are not against charities. It was clear though that he is against a few of the owners of clothing bins placed in Wayne.
Schweighardt then read from a sign attached to the Texima clothing bin on Mountainview Boulevard, demonstrating that the bin was placed by a for-profit company and not a charity.
There were two companies that fell under Schweighardt’s crosshairs: Texima and Planet Aid, the latter receiving the lion’s share of the Councilman’s ire.
“When you get a minute go on a website called CharityWatch.org/PlanetAid and you will be totally shocked and amazed at what you read,” said Schweighardt. “This is a worldwide corporation, where some people have suggested it’s a cult.”
He explained that Texima and Planet Aid don’t give the collected clothing away to needy people, instead they sell the clothing to thrift shops, or they sell them to third-world countries. Planet Aid in particular was singled out by Schweighardt who described a multi-million-dollar corporation with a CEO “on the lam,” wanted by Interpol.
“Is that typical of the owners of bins in Wayne,” asked Schweighardt rhetorically. “No.”
Schweighardt repeated what he said at the last meeting about witnessing a car with Lincoln Park decals on it stop in front of a clothing bin on Mountainview and saw him drop bags of clothing in front of the bin.
“What is Wayne to be? A depository for other town’s trash?” he asked.
“The point I’m making is that there are other organizations in town that will take our used clothing,” said the elder statesman. “We have the Council of PTOs Browse N Shop; they collect clothing. They provided a 100% of the money they took in as scholarships for the high school students. They are very tangible. We can see where the money is going.”
“The two points I’m trying to make are: Cleanliness, as far as the town is concerned; And, where does the money go? So, I encourage my fellow council members to support the introduction of this ordinance,” said Schweighardt in conclusion.
Councilwoman Fran Ritter provided counterpoints, saying that families in town depend on the bins to donate clothing and that there are many people who would throw out their old clothes if there wasn’t a convenient place for them to donate them. “There is an environmental impact I would like us to consider,” said Ritter. “This is a call for a consideration of alternatives to a ban.”
Wayne Mayor Chris Vergano spoke up next, confirming his support for the ban on the clothing bins. “It’s not just clothes that are dropped off at the bins, its garbage, diapers, car seats, highchairs, everything you can imagine,” said Vergano.
“We have forty-two less employees today than we did thirteen years ago,” said the Mayor. “We don’t have the staff to go out and inspect clothing bins. The other problem is they pop up overnight and don’t get permits, and then we have to try to track down the owners. So, this has been a struggle for many years.”
The mayor spoke of alternatives to the bins, mentioning that his family has their old clothing picked up by a veteran’s donation service. Vergano also mentioned the Browse N Shop Thrift Shop.
Various alternatives to clothing bins were mentioned by the council members before the Council voted in favor to introduce the ordinance, with six council members voting Yes, Ritter voting No and Councilwoman Jill Sasso abstaining on the vote (Franco Mazzei was not in attendance).
This does not mean that the ordinance passed, only that it was introduced for consideration and will be voted on, likely, at the next council meeting.
According to Schweighardt: “In the interim, the planning board will have to take a look at it because it’s a zoning issue.”
If the ordinance is passed into law, those with clothing bins will be able to keep their bins in place until the end of the year.
During public comments, Wayne resident John Pennington spoke against the ordinance, showing pictures of various bins throughout the town. None of his pictures showed bins overflowing as described by Schweighardt and Vergano.
Leif Skogberg, another Wayne resident spoke to the council about the recycling of clothing as a way to lessen the environmental impact the production of clothing has on the earth. He also mentioned that when recycled, the clothing does not go into landfills which will save the town money. Another point was that those who couldn’t afford retail clothes benefit from buying clothes at thrift shops. “There are a number of issues that could be looked at more fully,” he said.
The ordinance reads:
WHEREAS, Chapter 134 (Land Development), Article III (Zoning Regulations), Section 134-26.4 (Special Permits) (B) (Clothing bins) of the Code of the Township of Wayne (“Code”) needs to be repealed in its entirety so as to effectively ban the use and placement of clothing bins throughout the Township.
The Browse N Shop Thrift Shop was mentioned several times as an alternative place to drop off unwanted clothing. Council President Joe Scuralli and Councilman Al Sadowski mentioned clothing bins at some of Wayne’s houses of worship.
They all have clothing bins outside their facilities. According to the wording of the law, these bins would also be banned.
An alternative idea: An exception to the ordinance that allows clothing bins that are owned by Wayne organizations and placed on their own properties.