No Knock Ordinance Re-Introduced

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  PLUMSTED – The township’s “No Knock” ordinance was re-introduced after further revisions during the most recent Township Committee meeting.

  The issue of when political and religious canvassing could occur has been an issue of debate during Committee meetings.

  For months Police Chief Earl Meroney urged township officials to revise the municipality’s “No Knock” Ordinance following an incident that occurred on April 23.

  Members of Committeeman Dominick Cuozzo’s church were going door-to-door inviting people to services. However, they were soliciting during hours that were not allowed by ordinance, between noon and 2 p.m. on Sunday. A police officer stopped them and it became a larger issue when Cuozzo arrived and said that the cop worked for him and ordered him to leave the parishioners alone.

  The police chief maintained that his officer was following the law as it was written and that if it needed to be changed, that’s something the Township Committee had to do.

  Some residents spoke during meetings, stating they were in favor of regulating hours when political or religious canvassers could not visit their homes as they had no interest in anyone on their property.

  Township Attorney Jean Cipriani previously cautioned the Committee that having too restrictive an ordinance could open the municipality up to be legally challenged because the Constitution afforded a degree of solicitation for religious and political purposes for their freedom of expression.

  Mayor Robert Bowen said the canvassing would be allowed Monday through Sunday, but restricted to the hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  Committeeman Cuozzo said “the problem with the ordinance in the first place was that it was vague and unclear. We need to make it very, very clear.”

  Cipriani noted, “every trade, solicitor or canvasser shall restrict his or her door-to-door activities to the hours between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. period. Since we are allowing it on all days there is no reason to mention the days of the week at all.”

  “My only thought was that if we don’t mention the days then they go look for an exemption,” the mayor added.

  “My position has always been just put a no knock sign up on your door,” Committeeman Leonard Grilletto said. “This tells them not to come at all and if they do, ask them to leave. If they don’t leave just call the police.”

  “I think we put in considerable time, coming up with the time. I think we should be as specific as we can be so there is no misinterpretation. You need a start time and end time,” Committeeman Michael Hammerstone said.

  Grilletto, Bowen and Hammerstone each voted yes on the hours being 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Deputy Mayor Herb Marinari was absent due to illness and Committeeman Dominick Cuozzo attended via speaker phone at the November meeting. He abstained from voting.

  The second reading and public hearing of this ordinance will take place during the Township Committee’s December 7 meeting.

Roadwork, Grants And Energy Audits

  Mayor Bowen noted during his committee report that Route 539 had been repaved in October from Route 528 in Plumsted to Horicon Avenue in Manchester. He also said that two more road repaving projects had been scheduled. They include Route 537 from Evergreen Road to Province Line Road and Archertown Road from Long Swamp Road to Colliers Mills Road.

  The work will be performed at night between 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and should have been completed by the end of November.

  The mayor said the township had applied for a New Jersey Department of Transportation 2024 Safe Routes to School grant that includes three elements: extending the Jacobstown Road sidewalk from Meadowbrook up to Province Line Road; completing the Union Transportation Trail from Jacobstown Road to Evergreen Road; upgrading crosswalks around the schools on Evergreen Road and Main Street.

  “All three projects would enhance our downtown for pedestrians and bike riders,” Mayor Bowen said. The township has been upgrading its telephone and internet networks to fiber optic cable at the municipal building and police station. This is expected to be completed in the next few months and is a major upgrade to the communications capabilities at both buildings.

  The township is also completing energy audits for the municipal building, police station, OEM/EMS Services building, maintenance building and recreation complex. The audits offer strategies to reduce energy use while enhancing the facilities the mayor added.

  Mayor Bowen referenced recent public events such as a flu vaccination clinic held at the township library, an open house at the New Egypt Firehouse, the Township Drug and Alcohol Alliance’s Senior Wellness Fair at the Primary School, the Oakford Lake Fishing Derby, and a free rabies clinic at the Pine Street Maintenance Building.

Proclamations And Resolutions

  The meeting featured a proclamation commemorating the holiday of Thanksgiving written by Committeeman Cuozzo and read by Mayor Bowen. A resolution was also passed supporting Israel following the October 7 attack on citizens by the terrorist organization Hamas.

Tree Lighting

  The Plumsted Township Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on December 2 in front of Town Hall on Evergreen Street. Santa Claus will be transported to the site via New Egypt Fire Company fire truck following his sleigh ride from the North Pole to New Egypt.