North Brunswick officials, resident differ on ‘success’ of property maintenance in town

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NORTH BRUNSWICK – Township officials are calling property maintenance efforts in 2018 a “success,” though one resident has been disputing those claims.

The township enhanced its property maintenance program at the start of 2017, aided by the addition of a fourth code enforcement officer. Since then, there has been a sharp increase in the number of properties and items managed, according to Michael Hritz, director of the North Brunswick Department of Community Development.

Hritz said there were 270 cases last year across town, compared to 225 in 2016. More than half of all property maintenance issues are identified directly by code enforcement officers while on the road, with others supplemented by members of the Department of Public Works or police officers on patrol.

Of those 270 complaints, Hritz said 48 percent were successfully abated through communication between the property owners and inspectors before the remaining 146 items incurred formal written violations, Hritz said during the Jan. 28 council workshop meeting.

The number of court summonses have also increased from six in 2016 to 24 in 2018, realizing more than $7,000 in revenue last year. Since several summonses remain open, that will mean additional revenue added to the total, Hritz said.

Hritz credited the code enforcement staff for their commitment and hard work, noting that in addition to managing property maintenance complaints they also conduct nearly 2,500 rental and housing inspections per year.  

“I think this is a positive report that reflects the work the staff has been doing,” Hritz said.

However, resident Tony Nastus has continually attended council meetings to express his displeasure with property management. He called 777 Adams Lane “a junkyard.” He cited trucks illegally parking on the sidewalk by the Citgo gas station on Georges Road. He said he believes the vehicles on the property at 3 Edgewood Place are not registered. He said the person who owns 341 Georges Road lives in Pennsylvania, but does not care for the property. He said the graffiti on the Livingston Avenue overpass should be cleaned up or turned over to the police department.

“I get no reaction in the last 10 years,” Nastus said. “Every time I mention it it goes into the bottom drawer and into the circular file. … These aren’t new, these are regurgitating problems that for some reason Code Enforcement won’t jump in with a strong hand and fix.”

During the council workshop meeting, township attorney Ronald Gordon said for a residential property, if there is a danger to life, healthy or safety, the township can authorize Community Development to do the work while placing a lien. For a commercial property, the town must issue a municipal court summons to get the property remediated.

The council asserted that the issues are being handled, albeit not to Nastus’s satisfaction.

Contact Jennifer Amato at [email protected].