The Port Orange City Council adopted new shopping cart regulations on a 3-1 vote Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Councilman Robert Ford was absent and Councilman Chase Tramont voted no.
The regulations are an attempt to fix the problem of businesses having their shopping carts stolen and then abandoned as they end up everywhere from surrounding woods to retention ponds and canals.
The regulations address shopping carts being removed from an owner's property and responsibilities of the owners to make efforts to prevent removal. Owners must retrieve carts in a timely manner when notified of carts off the property.
Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi is in favor of the ordinance. “It’s a quality of life issue, making the city better,” Chief Grimaldi said.
Exemptions can be made based on certain criteria, including if a business owns less than 20 shopping carts or if the business uses security devices like alarms or barriers designed to keep the carts on the owner’s property. Barring an exemption, all businesses with shopping carts have six months to come into compliance or face possible penalties.
Owners also must post signs warning shoppers not to take the carts and have a sign on every shopping cart identifying the owner and providing contact information.
Any person who removes a shopping cart from the premises of the owner, or is in the possession of any shopping cart, shall be presumed to be in possession of stolen property and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, according to state law.
Employees and officers of the city have been charged with helping with the regulations during the course of their official duties.
A couple of residents spoke against the measure with one, Steven Kleid, equating making businesses responsible to where their shopping carts end up akin to businesses being responsible for merchandise taken out of their store by shoplifters.
“We got some input from the manager at Lowe’s that was very helpful, we got some input of BJ’s that was very helpful,” Mayor Don Burnette said. “We are asking our big box operators to be responsible and take care of their property as best to their knowledge. (But) if you are continually irresponsible there is a penalty.”
Councilman Scott Stiltner said, “We can’t have a city with carts being left all over the place. This ordinance is to help the city keep looking good.”
When there is a violation the shopping center would be contacted and given time to correct it, but the incident would be documented with the number of violations being considered for exemptions.
In other business, the council approved a land annexation on Taylor Road near Crane Lakes for an All Aboard Storage facility.