That No-Knock Ordinance is Our Only Hope…No, There was Another

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Records obtained from Jackson Township show that Jackson’s new no-knock ordinance removed several components of the original 1995 ordinance that regulated peddling and door-to-door solicitation in the township that are now being requested by township residents.

In particular, the requirement of township issued identification and criminal background checks have been removed from the new ordinance, after being the law for the pasts 30 years.

Back in 1995, to combat the persistent door-to-door peddling the township council then enacted an ordinance to license and regulate peddlers, vendors and solicitors in residential neighborhoods.

That ordinance required solicitors to go through a vigorous registration process that required them to pay a $100 fee to the township and submit a more detailed application.

Applicants had to provide in writing each individual solicitor’s name and address, a physical description of the applicant, the applicant’s places of residents for the past 5 year period, a complete description of the services offered, complete description of the vehicles to be used including the make, model, color and license plate, the same as the amended ordinance passed in 2015.

Additionally the applicant had to certify that they had never been denied a peddler’s license and that if they did, their license had never been revoked.

Unlike the new ordinance,  a criminal background check was also part of the process.

All solicitors were required to provide the township proof of a New Jersey license and an insurance policy that included damages to property and persons, including death.  That policy should cover $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident.

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A township issued ID card was to be worn by all solicitors, visible to residents while they scoured the neighborhoods.

Under the old ordinance, the peddler’s license could be revoked by the township in the event of fraud, public nuisance or if the township felt the vendor’s activities were a risk to public health and safety.

Soliciting was permitted only between the hours of 7am and 9pm.    Violations under the old ordinance were capped at a $500 fine and up to 90 days in prison.

Fast forward 30 years to 2015.

A new ordinance enacted by the township council was passed to address the new concerns of aggressive real estate buyers and rumors of religious blockbusting and bullying tactics by those realtors.

In that new ordinance, there were no requirements for criminal background checks and the township no longer required solicitors to wear the township issued ID badge.

Similarly, both ordinances require the names and addresses of the solicitors, their past 5 years of residence, past denials, insurance and business license.

The new ordinance forces the applicant to narrow down their target area by street and further limits the hours to 10-6pm Monday through Saturday and 12-2pm on Sunday.

The 1995 ordinance specifically declared that it superceded any previous similar ordinance, but the 2015 ordinance does not specify, but township administrator Helene Schlegel said the new ordinance supersedes the 1995 ordinance.

While the amended ordinance added language to address blockbusting, a no-knock registry and attempted to curb unethical real-estate practices, it did effectively dropped the requirement for criminal background checks and the requirement of township issued identification cards to be worn by those approved to solicit in the town’s neighborhoods.

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At the last township council meeting, Councilman Rob Nixon requested the township attorney to look into adding language for criminal background checks.

The next township council meeting is scheduled for tonight, discussion of the no-knock ordinance, nor amendments to the ordinance have been proposed.

 

 

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