Meadville Tribune

Local News

April 16, 2014

Law setting sights on Meadville's shopping cart scourge

MEADVILLE — Less than 11 months after a frustrated LeRoy Stearns brought the issue to the attention of his fellow members of Meadville City Council, an ordinance designed to eliminate abandoned shopping carts from the streets — and yards — of Meadville is on its way to final passage.

The first and second reading of a city ordinance “to regulate the labeling, usage and containment of shopping carts, and to define a retrieval process and penalties for abandoned shopping carts which create a public nuisance in the City of Meadville” took place during council’s monthly meeting Wednesday night.

The third and final reading and final passage of the ordinance is expected to be included on the agenda of the May 7 council session, according to Meadville Mayor Christopher Soff.

Having established to its satisfaction that abandoned carts are a potential safety hazard as well as a public nuisance, council is attempting to regulate the removal of shopping carts from business premises without authorization from the cart owner.

The idea, according to the ordinance, is to hold owners or operators of commercial establishments that own or provide shopping carts for customer use responsible for keeping the carts on their business premises and for authorizing temporary removal of the carts.

“They’re as interested in keeping those carts on their property as we are,” Stearns told Council, reflecting on the response he and fellow shopping cart committee member Councilman Bob Langley, Assistant City Manager Andy Walker and Gary Alizzeo, the city’s attorney, received during meetings with shopping cart owners.

Under the new ordinance, cart owners are required to permanently affix and maintain, in the words of the ordinance, “an easily visible sign, label or imprinted logo onto each shopping cart identifying the commercial establishment as the cart owner.” Each cart authorized to leave the business premises must also be stamped or imprinted with a serial number to be recorded whenever removal is authorized and an easily-visible colored triangle-shaped sign or label must be attached to the cart.

Every cart owner shall post a notice in public view explaining that unauthorized removal of a shopping cart from the business premises or possession of a shopping cart outside the business premises without authorization is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and 90 days in jail.

Customers receiving written authorization to remove carts from the premises must store the carts out of the view of their neighbors and the general public.

Carts discovered by city personnel off business premises without proper cart identification may be disposed of by the city without notice to the cart owner.

Individuals removing a cart from business premises without authorization or failing to properly store a shopping cart removed from business premises with authorization are subject to fines of $50 to $300 for each offense and/or up to 90 days in jail.

A shopping cart not retrieved within 72 hours of the cart owner receiving notice from city personnel that a stray cart has been located shall be retrieved by city personnel and placed in storage. Cart owners will be charged a redemption fee based on the time and difficulty involved in retrieving the cart. Carts not retrieved after 10 days may be disposed of by the city.

Walker noted that individuals finding stray carts must notify city staff, whose notice to the cart owner will start the clock ticking on the 72-hour pickup deadline.

The ordinance will become effective 21 days after final passage.

“We ask the community to respect the ordinance,” Stearns said, noting that various stores are already offering pull-type carts for sale.

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