HOWELL – A ‘pop-up’ party that drew between 300-500 people to a neighborhood in the township on Aug. 9 led to charging the man responsible for it with violating the governor’s executive order which restricts large gatherings.
Ronald W. Chatman, 37, a resident of the Wilson Drive, Ramtown section of the township was charged with violating the executive order and also charged with contempt for allegedly violating a domestic violence restraining order in an unrelated matter according to municipal court records.
Howell Police spokesman Sgt. Christian Antunez said calls from residents started around 5 p.m. and police arrived at the scene around 20 minutes later.
Township police were joined by officers from Wall, Brick, Jackson and Freehold along with Monmouth and Ocean County Sheriff’s officers and State Police.
The road leading to Wilson Drive had to be blocked by police to prevent the steady flow of vehicles attempting to attend. Only residents were allowed into the vicinity.
Sgt. Antunez said initially that the crowd numbered approximately 300 people but later estimates made put that total to closer to 500 in attendance at the peak of the event.
The party was advertised as a pool party with a DJ. Chatman was charging attendees an admission fee of $30, according to police. Most attendees were compliant while others were upset with Chatman. Some paid about $650 for the rental of a cabana near the pool in addition to the entry fee, according to police who added that most of the party attendees were not from the area.
There were also reports of stragglers urinating on people’s property and vehicles.
Gov. Phil Murphy noted the incident among several that occurred in the state over the weekend, during his daily press conference on Aug. 10.
“It took eight agencies to break this up. Come on, man. I have been told it was not that large foot print in terms of the yard or the house. This can’t go on,” he said.
Murphy noted the Howell party was similar to numerous documented cases of shore area bars who “may have been trying to do the right thing once patrons got in but whose lines were filled with people, particularly young people who were neither keeping socially distant or wearing masks.”
A few weeks ago, nearby Jackson Township experienced a similar situation involving multiple law enforcement agencies coming to a home leased for a party that drew approximately 700 people and resulted in a summons.
It prompted Jackson officials to introduce an ordinance imposing limits on short-term rental properties. That ordinance is expected to be adopted later this month.