TOMS RIVER – The Township Council has created a fine on property owners if they routinely have the police respond to them.
The fine is meant to reimburse the township for excessive police calls in order to reduce the tax burden.
“The Township Council finds and declares that the cost of the excessive consumption of municipal services relating directly to these nuisance properties should be paid by the property owner and, if applicable, the responsible tenant or occupant, and not through general tax revenues,” the ordinance stated.
The examples that the township officials used include hotels that are known locations for drug activity.
“There are a number of areas that the police respond to well in excess of what would be considered normal,” Councilman Maurice Hill said. He noted that the idea for this ordinance came from business administrator Don Guardian, who made use of a similar one when he was mayor of Atlantic City.
The ordinance explains that there needs to be a certain number of calls within a 60-day period, about various issues, such as damaging property, injuring people, dangerous animals, prostitution, public indecency, and code violations. The number of calls varies based on the type of property:
- Residential, with one to four units: 5 calls
- Five through 40 residences: 10 calls
- 41 through 80 residences: 20 calls
- 81 through 200 residences: 30 calls
- More than 200 residences: 40 calls
- Convenience, grocery, liquor and retail stores: 10 calls
- Restaurants, bars, and adult entertainment: 10 calls
- Any properties not already listed: 10 calls
Once the property is deemed a nuisance, a 12-month probationary period begins. Any additional calls during this time can warrant an additional $300 fine.
The ordinance also details how the town will inform the property owner about their nuisance status, and whether to warn them when their number of calls is getting high.
Township departments would be required to keep records on how often their staff are being sent to repeat offenders. Property owners can make their case at a municipal hearing.
“Everyone’s got to do their part to address the opiate epidemic and this nuisance ordinance will address it,” Councilman Daniel Rodrick said.