City Council tries to rid streets of shopping carts
Posted February 20, 2008
MADISON HEIGHTS — The city of Madison Heights is getting tough on local retailers and residents to be sure that shopping carts do not end up in neighborhoods or in traffic where they could cause a nuisance.
An updated ordinance allows city officials to tow shopping carts that are found throughout the city on property that is not owned by the retail store that owns the cart.
“People take them to their homes and never take them back,” said Madison Heights Mayor Edward Swanson. “They just accumulate. It’s a way to get the store owners to keep track of them and keep them on their own property, if possible.”
Under the plan, retailer store owners will be encouraged to post signs to tell residents that they could be hit with a $500 fine or face 90 days in jail if they take the shopping carts off store property. Some stores like Meijer, on 13 Mile, already post such signs.
Residents and business owners were given a chance to speak on the issue during a meeting of the Madison Heights City Council on Feb. 11. No one came to argue the new ordinance, however.
“We want to work with these businesses to beef up their measures to keep these shopping carts on their property,” said Madison Heights City Manager Jon Austin. “Under the ordinance they have until midnight each day to get these carts into their designated storage areas.”
Stores that leave carts strewn throughout their parking lots are not punished under the updated ordinance.
Any carts found off store property can be impounded by the city and held for a period of 21 days. After that time, city officials plan to auction the carts, recycle them or simply dispose of them. The change to the ordinance is not a means to punish retailers but rather to clean up a nuisance in the city, Austin said.
The ordinance had not been updated since 1958 and now includes modern provisions to help the city rid streets and sidewalks of shopping carts.
“Our effort is to work with businesses and do what we can to help them,” said Austin. “They can be a traffic concern and they can end up in the streets. We don’t want them laying around the community.”
In order to get the carts out of impoundment, store owners will be required to pay $25 for each of the carts. For the city, however, an auction could fetch as much as $300 each, according to Austin.
Some store officials have already discussed offering residents portable shopping carts that can be folded up for carrying groceries home on foot.
“They’re going to offer heavy discounts on the purchase of portable carts,” said Austin. “For those people that want to do their shopping in that manner, they can purchase those for very reasonable costs. They can use and reuse those instead of taking the store’s carts home.”
Mike Bahoura, the manager of a Sav-a-lot store at 27117 John R, said the store lost 10 to 20 carts per month last year at a cost of $100 each. So the store’s owner decided to invest in a high-tech system that locks the front wheel of the store’s shopping carts once they exit the parking lot.
The system was expensive, at $15,000 for 100 carts, but well worth it, according to Bahoura.
“If it goes past the perimeter then the wheel locks up,” said Bahoura. “It keeps all of our carts in the lot. They really can’t leave the lot.”
Bahoura said that the new city ordinance will not likely affect the Sav-a-lot store, but he supports the measure as a means to clean up street corners of abandoned shopping carts.
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