By Neil Schulman
West Long Branch — The borough’s “no knock” ordinance is getting a few minor tweaks before it becomes law.
The West Long Branch Borough Council was scheduled to vote on the ordinance, which allows residents to be placed on a list barring solicitors selling door to door from going to their houses.
But Borough Attorney Greg Baxter said that a different part of the proposed ordinance, discussing the fees that people soliciting door to door pay, needed to be changed.
The ordinance raised the fees for “peddlers” and “transient merchants,” but most of the salespeople going door to door don’t fall into that category, so Baxter wanted to add a fee structure for “others.” One example are those who knock asking if people are interested in solar panels.
Baxter also wanted monthly and weekly fees set.
Borough Clerk Lori Cole said she’s never been asked for a transient merchant license, even though they’re on the books. Most of the people requesting peddler licenses are ice cream truck drivers, who purchase them for the summer months.
The borough also plans to have a special $25 licensing fee for those who want to register for a day of a borough-sponsored event, such as food trucks or vendors during the Fall Festival or Fourth of July celebrations.
The substance of the ordinance is the same as last time: if a vendor goes to a house on the no-knock list, they will receive a fine of $300 the first time, $1,000 the second, and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 for subsequent offenses. Because there’s a range, that means a judge must determine the amount, which means violators will need to spend a day in court.
People who sign up for a list will be given a sticker to put on their houses.
The ordinance does not prevent religious groups, political groups, and trick or treaters from knocking on doors.
Council introduced the revised ordinance at the Dec. 6 meeting, and expects to have a public hearing and vote it into law at the Dec. 20 meeting.
League of Municipality ideas
Baxter also reported on several interesting ideas and discussions he had heard at the League of Municipalities conference held in November.
One of the sessions he attended dealt with OPRA, the Open Public Records Act, and what can and can’t be requested through it.
Text messages about a governmental can be requested, Baxter said. But it might be up to the people receiving the text to archive it.
“How long to you think Verizon keeps text messages before they’re destroyed?” he asked. “Three to five days.”
Baxter also learned that if someone sends a letter to the borough, then asks for copies of all correspondence they’ve sent, the borough does not need to send them a copy of their own letter, and when it was possible to send an online link to a document rather than the document itself.
“It generated a lot of audience questions, including from me,” he said of the workshop.
Another interesting idea he learned was about a vacant properties ordinance in Deptford, New Jersey. People with a parcel of undeveloped land must register it with the city, making it easy to monitor who owns unkept properties, and if any unwanted activities are happening there.
“It’s basically a heads up ordinance,” Baxter said.
Please slow down
Councilman Chris Neyhart has asked residents and people going through West Long Branch to take it slow – for the safety of both themselves and others.
“The way people are driving is a little on the crazy side,” he said. “Also, keep in mind we have all the deer running around.”