by Phil Stilton
JACKSON-In the spring of 2014, a township ordinance to force the removal of hazardous abandoned structures was the talk of many town council meetings.
Former Business Administrator Jose Torres boasted about a list of structures and properties that could face action by the township, allowing the town to raze the structures and bill the owners.
“I have asked for funds to be put into that budget line for demolitions,” Torres said at one of his last meetings “My code enforcement officials need the tools to deal with the onslaught of abandoned and dilapidated homes. Currently we have over 100 such homes and we can only harass them to do the right thing.”
According to official township meeting minutes, Council President Nixon stated Council is looking at the abandoned properties list.
An ordinance was adopted based on that list.
Now, in 2015, township officials said no such list exists or ever existed after a JTOWN Magazine request was made to view the list.
After pushing the issue, the township later admitted the existence of the list, but said the list will not be released, despite an Open Public Records Request to obtain the list.
“Just because someone makes a public statement about something (whether it be a document or record) does not make that document/record disclosable [sic] under OPRA,” Township Clerk Ann Marie Eden said.
At this point it is unclear which homes are being targeted by the township, if any and homeowners who face possible legal from the action have no way of knowing whether or not the township has deemed their property abandoned or not.
Mayor Michael Reina said he was also unaware of this list held by the council, business administrator and engineer until he saw JTOWN’s request to see the list.
It remains unclear which properties the township is targeting under the 2014 ordinance.