Barnegat: Higher Fees, Criminal Checks For Solicitors

Barnegat Town Hall (Photo courtesy of Gavin Rozzi)

BARNEGAT – At the most recent Township Committee meeting, an ordinance was passed that will increase fees and require criminal background checks for vendors or solicitors in the township. This was the second reading of the ordinance and it passed unanimously.

The ordinance amends Chapter 52 of the Barnegat Municipal Code relating to Hawkers, Peddlers, Canvassers, and Vendors, to include license fee increases and criminal background checks for Canvassers, Solicitors, and Mobile Vendors.

The ordinance outlines that these solicitors or canvassers will be able to purchase an individual or a firm (corporate or partnership) license. A mobile vendor license is listed as valid until the following December 31 after it is issued.

It also notes that the Chief of Police will conduct a background investigation on any and all individuals applying for a license.

The statute requires that anyone applying for a license not have any criminal offenses within five years prior to applying or they will be turned away. Also, those who violate the terms of the ordinance will receive a penalty of up to $500 or up to 90 days in prison and their vendor license will be revoked.

Fees for a license will be increasing from $10 for the first individual to $1,000; and from $15 for any additional applicants, to $150 per additional applicant.

Additionally, on days that these solicitors or mobile vendors are to be traveling throughout the township, the chief, Keith Germain will be notified. The “Police Chief shall know who is traveling about the township and for what purpose and whether such person is licensed so to do,” it stated in the ordinance.

Barnegat resident Robert Russo of Ravenwood informed the committee during public comment that he started a poll on the Barnegat Pride Facebook page among residents to gauge people’s response to the possibility of creating a “no knock” ordinance in the town.

The poll was posted on March 31. It states: “Would you support a no knock ordinance in Barnegat Township? Just sent a tweet to Chief Keith Germain. Would love a consensus of how many people would like a NO KNOCK ordinance passed in town. 7-8 solar canvassers this month alone is far too much and a nuisance. They don’t take no for an answer.”

As of April 5, the poll had 231 residents in favor and only 5 not in favor.

Russo said that this “no knock” ordinance could help prevent any number of unwarranted solicitors from ringing his doorbell multiple times per month. He noted that he works as a voice-over artist from his home in Barnegat, and solicitors knocking at the door have interrupted his work countless times before.

However, he also noted that “it [the “no knock” ordinance] shouldn’t affect the kids,” such as Girl Scouts for example.

Board Attorney Sean Kean said during the meeting that it can be hard to determine who to include and who to exclude in a potential ordinance of that nature. However, he did explain that the amendments to the licensing process will make it more difficult for vendors and solicitors to do what they do.

In the adopted ordinance, there are some listed exceptions to those who can apply without paying the increased fees such as honorably discharged veterans, non-profit organizations, religious, charitable, educational, political, civic or veteran organizations, and any members of volunteer fire departments from any municipality or fire district in the state.