SWEDESBORO — During their meeting on Aug. 18, the Swedesboro Council discussed adding a vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed property ordinance to its borough regulations. The measure, growing in popularity across New Jersey, requires registration of a property that has been left vacant.
Mark Fruits, Zoning Officer for Woolwich Township, made the proposal. Fruits indicated that the ordinance gives a community more information for locating the owner of a vacant property that has fallen into disrepair. “Every town has the same problem,” Fruits observed. “Vacant property registration gives us a name, a phone number, and a fax number to issue a violation notice to the owner.”
Municipal Clerk Tanya Goodwin questioned the guidelines for the registration charges. Fruits said that they vary with each community. Woolwich charges $250, while most towns range from $150 to $500. East Greenwich Township charges $600, while registration costs $1,000 in Woodbury.
Fruits does property maintenance for Woolwich, and completes a physical examination of the building in question. He listed 32 vacant properties on his record for Woolwich, and noted that 25 of them have paid registration. “We give them 10 days to rectify a situation,” he said.
Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm expressed doubts about the ordinance at the beginning, but supported it as the discussion continued. “I think it’s another tool that could help us,” Fromm commented. “It’s worth trying along with our abandoned property ordinance.”
“He does one more step than we do now,” added Councilmember Dave Flaherty.
“I think we should move forward on it,” mentioned Councilmember George Weeks. “It gives us more opportunity to track down these people.”
The Council moved to send the measure to the Borough Solicitor for review.
In the public portion of the meeting, Franklin Street resident Jay Sutcliffe asked the Council whether any action was being taken regarding speeding on the road. Fromm said that new signage had gone up at the end of the street, and believed new striping should help matters.
Woolwich Township Police Lieutenant Sheldon Lewis wasn’t sure that expanded police coverage on Franklin would help the situation. “If you put a marked police unit somewhere, people are going to slow down and warn each other,” he explained. “They’ll slow down for a week if we go over there, but if we go somewhere else, they’ll come back.”
Fromm noted that official pedestrian crosswalks were expected to be up on Franklin and around the town at the start of school. “That signal will slow them down for a time,” he added.
Lewis revealed that the police were working on a project that will be set up in the future. “It’s coming,” he forewarned.
Fromm credited Lewis and the local force for issuing a larger number of tickets. “There were 211 tickets issued in July according to the police report, a significant increase,” related the mayor. ”There used to be under 100 and even less every month.”
Lewis thanked Fromm for Council’s efforts in battling the speeding situation, and assured the mayor that the police would help in any way possible.
In resolutions, Council approved permits for Tavro 13 and Red Hen to hold events in their back parking area Oct. 3, 4, and 5. And a change order increase of $13,700 was approved to replace solar panels with regular electricity on the upcoming community crosswalks.
In Garbage and Recycling, Weeks reported that Swedesboro was throwing out about 68 percent in trash, and 32 percent recyclables. In her Economic Development report, Councilmember Diane Hale mentioned the Jazz Fest scheduled for Oct. 18.
Also, in Street Lighting, Councilmember Sam Casella said that Atlantic Electric would thoroughly evaluate leaning poles in the community in 2015.
And Fromm talked about a project in the works that would divide Swedesboro into seven sections, each one being assigned to a Councilmember. Councilmembers would be expected to visit their zones and get feedback from the public.