Anyone who regularly drives Loudoun’s roads has seen volunteers collecting money in boots or buckets for various causes. No more.
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors this week unanimously banned the practice, citing safety concerns. Some board members said they were OK with the restriction since it would still be permitted in towns within the county, including Leesburg. All board members said they receive complaints whenever collections occur.
Representatives from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and local firefighters organizations – firefighters raise money annually for MDA with a Fill the Boot campaign – asked the board to consider a permitting process that would enable their roadside fundraising to continue.
Of seven speakers, including those in some way living with Muscular Dystrophy, two spoke in favor of restrictions, although they expressed an interest in the permitting process. However, County Attorney John R. Roberts called such exemptions permitted by other jurisdictions “suspect” and said they could open the county to litigation.
Regardless, several supervisors said even Fill the Boot caused safety concerns.
“The safety issue has been with fire and rescue, because I’ve seen it,” said board Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), adding that he’s witnessed firefighters collecting “when the lights are green and the traffic is flowing.”
Stewart said MDA collections would likely fall dramatically, based on historic data from the organization in other jurisdictions. Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) said the fact that collections could continue in Leesburg gave her less concern about county restriction.
Leesburg also has the option to ban such roadside solicitors. Just about every board member promised to help MDA get the message out about fundraising.
Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said some fundraisers were aggressive.
“Fundraising; I do that,” said Delgaudio, who’s being investigated because of accusation about his own fundraising activities. “I know all about fundraising.”
Delgaudio also said the “panhandlers” were coming from outside the county “because we’re rich.”
Buona said firefighters could go door-to-door instead of collecting along roadsides, but that the county's growing population has made many collections sites dangerous.
Supervisors hope the ban will keep traffic from being tied up along Route 7, Route 50, Waxpool Road and other heavily traveled corridors.