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Madison Heights adopts ordinance on unsolicited materials

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 21, 2020

 Shutterstock image

Shutterstock image


MADISON HEIGHTS — Unsolicited materials thrown in front of one’s home can cause all sorts of problems, becoming litter for the environment, tripping hazards for pedestrians, or obstacles for snowblowers that might suck up buried objects.

The Madison Heights City Council is trying to address the issue with the recent unanimous passage of an ordinance that requires these materials to be placed in certain areas, such as the porch, front door or specially designated receptacles.

“As council is aware, residents receive unsolicited materials that are many times deposited in the resident’s driveway approach. This unsolicited material also migrates to public streets or other public property and is a nuisance, blight or litter on private property, public streets or other public property,” wrote Nic Grochowski, the assistant city attorney, in a letter to the City Council.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals recently issued a decision on this subject that gave municipalities guidance on constitutional and acceptable ordinance language that municipalities could enact to address this concern. This proposed ordinance amendment is substantially similar to and based on the ordinance language that the U.S. Court of Appeals approved in that opinion,” he continued. “The proposed ordinance amendment is also similar to an ordinance recently approved and adopted by the city of Ferndale on the same topic.”

The newly approved ordinance requires that any unsolicited written materials delivered to a property be placed at one of the following locations:

• On a porch, if one exists, nearest the front door.

• Securely attached to the front door.

• Through a door slot on the front door used by the U.S. Postal Service.

• Between the exterior front door, if unlocked, and the interior front door.

• In a distribution box on or adjacent to the property, where permitted.

• Adjacent to a postal box near the front door.

• Delivered in person to the property owner, occupant or lessee.

Anyone found violating the new ordinance by delivering unsolicited written materials to a location other than those described may be charged with a civil infraction and a civil fine of $100.

“This ordinance is a small change, but an important one that is made necessary not just because unsolicited materials left all over our citizens’ property is inconvenient, but it also unnecessarily contributes to added litter and blight in our neighborhoods,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss.

“Forcing these materials to be placed on porches will reduce that and make it more difficult for waterlogged papers to find their way to the sidewalk or street and potentially clog our drains and become trip hazards in the snow,” Bliss said. “Additionally, this will make it easier for those with health issues who find it difficult to pick them up at the foot of their driveway, to collect these materials and perhaps gain some value from them.”