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Judge agrees to prevent removal of charity bins

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A Michigan township will not immediately be allowed to remove outdoor clothing donation bins placed by a Maryland-based nonprofit group, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood on Wednesday granted a request by Planet Aid for a temporary restraining order. The charity has 16 clothing and shoe collection bins on commercial properties in Washtenaw County’s Ypsilanti Township and said it was being unfairly targeted.

Elkridge-based Planet Aid got approval from property owners to put in bins. Officials in Ypsilanti Township, near Ann Arbor enforced a decades-old zoning decision requiring such structures to be approved by the Planning Commission.

Ypsilanti Township’s attorney Doug Winters told The Ann Arbor News the township received complaints about the cleanliness, orderliness and placement of the bins. Officials sent letters to those with bins on their properties.

“It’s not about anyone being against the donations, but there’s got to be some degree of rationality about where they’ll be and how they’ll be maintained,” Winters said.

Dan Dalton, a lawyer representing Planet Aid, said that the nonprofit has been dutiful in ensuring that the bins are emptied regularly and properly maintained, and that Planet Aid shouldn’t have to suffer from the township’s enforcement of an outdated policy.

Planet Aid argues that the solicitation of donations such as clothing and shoes is a form of speech fully protected by the First Amendment.

Dozens of other Michigan communities have bans on outdoor collection bins, the newspaper said. Last year, Grand Rapids instituted a bin ban and cited a previous ordinance about “unrelated activity” not being able to take place on a property.

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