TOMS RIVER-Four Lakewood based realtors have applied for canvassing permits to knock on doors to ask homeowners to sell their property this past week in Toms River. This is according to Toms River Township which has issued permits to the real estate businesses.
Four Points Realty of Madison Avenue was approved on Wednesday for a permit to knock on doors in town from October 21 to November 19. Simcha “Seth” Salomon has been approved to knock on doors in the North Dover section of town.
Devora Berger of Remax Realty on the Move, based out of an office on 305 Main Street in Lakewood has been approved to canvass the same general area.
Charles Klein of Four Points Realty, based out of 1072 Madison Avenue in Lakewood was the fourth Lakewood based real estate agent to be approved within the past week in Toms River. Klein’s permit allows him to also canvass the Vermont Avenue and North Maple Avenue sections of the township.
Ychezkel Steiner, of Imperial Real Estate, located on 212 Second Street in Lakewood has also been approved to canvass the North Dover section of town.
Lakewood realtors engaged in an aggressive soliciting campaign in Jackson this past July, sparking a passionate debate of Jackson Township’s no-knock ordinance.
Jackson Township Councilman Rob Nixon opened the doors for the discussion when he told the township council and members of the community about his exchange with constituents at a fourth of July picnic.
“I’m at a Fourth of July party and this was a topic of discussion for a large period of time, so obviously if it’s enough to purvey a good party, then certainly it’s important enough that we analyze it,” Nixon said. “What can we do to address the sanctity of people’s homes and their private property rights?”
Vitina Hamilton, a nearly 40 year resident of Jackson resident said solicitors knock on her door constantly and stake out her neighborhood at all hours of the day to make offers on homes in her neighborhood.
“I get up at six o’clock in the morning, I get up to water my plants,” Hamilton said. “There’s somebody in a car sitting there. They knock on my door at 8 o’clock at night.”
She claimed the realtors had used questionable tactics.
“At your age, what do you want this house for?” she said one asked her.
“You really should sell your house because I’m sure you don’t want to be surrounded by Jews,” she claimed another realtor said. “He’s a Jew. He’s a Hasidic Jew. He runs a real estate agency.”
Hamilton said she started out being nice to the solicitors but they just kept on coming.
“I started out being polite, I’m done being polite,” she said. “I asked the man if he wanted to shake my hand, he almost fell to the ground.”
She claimed on a daily basis there are 10-15 cars driving around Arizona Avenue soliciting homes in the development.
“They drive around and point like it’s a safari ride, It just doesn’t stop. Even if you’re sitting out there, they don’t care if you’re out there,” she added.
She said realtors from Lakewood have walked in her backyard to solicit her. “A house two doors down from my house burned recently,” she said. “I see them jump over the fence.”
“If he’s in your backyard, that’s trespassing,” Councilman Nixon advised. “If he’s in your yard, or hopping a fence, call the police.”
Hamilton warned the council that she was told by one realtor that his goal was to buy enough houses to gain votes in Jackson and place members of their community on the township council.
“They can run against me in 2016 if they like,” Nixon said. “Whoever would like to is more than welcome to.”
“Everyone has a right, but we want to protect the residents as much as possible,” Councilman Barry Calogero said. “We need to have the strongest possible ordinance that the law allows. Clearly we’ve been a victim of this ourselves, as Councilman Nixon said.”
Councilwoman Ann Updegrave said, “I am all for having our legal counsel look into this.”
“If they do trespass on your property, call the police,” said Councilman Scott Martin. “After that, get their card and call the police. It’s going to be difficult for them to say they weren’t there if you have their card. If they have to pay the $1,200 every time, they’ll get the point.”
Elanor Hannum said her daughter lives in Brookwood and has the same problem.
Like Jackson, Toms River also has a no-knock ordinance.
Residents can download an application for a no-knock registry online and submit it to the township.
The Toms River ordinance prohibits commercial door-to-door soliciting without a permit, but allows for non-profit and charity soliciting.
Violations of the ordinance can result in a fine up to $1,250.
Toms River Chabad under fire
The issuance of the permits coincides with the township action by the township against the Toms River Chabad, which was found operating a Jewish community center in a residential home on Church Road. The township is now requiring the chabad’s owners to apply for a variance to continue their operations. The Toms River Chabad is already a tax exempt entity in the state of New Jersey. According to Toms River officials, the Chabad is tax exempt and does not currently pay property taxes and the decision of the zoning board has no bearing on the center’s status as a tax exempt entity.