No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Township officials are stepping up efforts to deal with property maintenance violations by issuing more summonses and adding more staff to the code enforcement office.
Council President James J. Byrnes said he recently toured a section near Mill Creek Road with a resident, who pointed out numerous code violations on some properties.
"There's a lot of vacant homes, a lot of violations in there," he said. "It needs to be cleaned up. The officer will be out there next week. Maybe we need to rethink bulk pickup. There's mattresses lying around."
Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said the township recently hired two part-time retired police officers to add to the code enforcement staff.
"They are busy," he said at the Aug. 14 Township Council meeting. "If a resident sees any violations, we'll make sure we get the code enforcement officer out there."
Amato - a former two-term Township Councilman - was sworn in on Jan. 1.
Since then, the township has a new municipal court judge and a new environmental prosecutor. James Gluck and Dina Vicari hold those positions, respectively.
Any violators are first given a seven-day warning to clean things up. If that doesn't happen, summonses will be issued and violators will have to appear in municipal court, Amato said.
The township eventually takes care of properties whose owners fail to make changes. That includes mowing lawns and removing items at curbside, he said.
But that will come with a price, Amato said.
"We are taking a hard line," the mayor said. "We are not just charging $30 anymore. Thirty dollars is turning into $200, $300, $400. We are moving in the right direction."
Part of the problem is the increased number of foreclosures and vacant homes throughout the township. Banks that own the properties will be charged for the cleanup costs, Amato said.
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