Township Committee members in Bordentown Township took action at a recent meeting to enforce additional rules and regulations for persons soliciting door-to-door in the municipality.
After the committee introduced an ordinance at a July 29 meeting to repeal and replace the township’s original code on legislation for peddling and solicitation, committee members made a motion to adopt the ordinance at their Aug. 12 meeting to enact the new code.
Township Administrator Michael Theokas said the new legislation came about after municipal professionals learned more peddlers and solicitors were operating in the community.
“One of the things we get a lot of here and interest from at town hall is door-to-door salespeople,” Theokas said. “It’s somewhat seasonal, but we have had a bit of an influx in solicitors and canvassers.”
Theokas said the increase in peddlers and solicitors caused the municipal professionals to review the legislation on the matter and determine what potential changes could be made.
“We are always looking through our ordinances and looking to update them,” he said. “We took a long look with our police department and code enforcement staff and came up with an amendment to our current solicitor’s ordinance. It is to clarify things and set up more of a clear process for licensing, so we can keep track of who is out there.
“We hadn’t taken a look at the ordinance in a while, so we wanted to see what was working, what wasn’t working, and the things that weren’t working in terms of hours of eligibility to be out there, identifying the [solicitors] out there – we needed to clarify it and tighten it up,” he said.
Although Theokas said he could not speak to the matter of whether peddlers and solicitors in the community were at fault for committing practices that did not follow suit with the previous township code, he said more is being done to ensure the welfare and safety of residents.
Theokas said the purpose of the new ordinance is to lay out a clearer time frame for solicitors, as well as to establish rules and regulations for the well-being of homeowners. He said business personnel who plan to canvass in the community will be required to go through additional certification and permitting requirements.
“Public safety is most important, so for identification, [solicitors] are going to get an identification badge and get background checks,” he said. “We are going to set specific limits on the time they can go out and do their sales, and more importantly, we set up a clear process for people who want to register for a ‘No-Knock’ list […] We set up a clear way for people to understand that if there is a sticker on a resident’s door that says they are on the list, then no one is supposed to knock on their door.”
For any peddler or solicitor who does not adhere to the new ordinance, Theokas said those individuals will be fined or be held accountable for their actions.
“There are penalties and fees involved if someone is on the ‘No-Knock’ list and [a solicitor] does not conform to that standard,” he said. “We then have the ability to enforce our local ordinance.”
As the municipality fields more calls and reports from residents about additional matters, Theokas said township professionals remain focused on taking these notices into account and seeing what can be done to benefit residents through the municipal code.
“It’s a quality of life thing that we do a lot of here,” he said. “We work very hard on looking at our ordinances and making sure our police department and code enforcement people have the right tools they need to enforce them. If we hear from the public about an issue, we take a look at it. This is what happens when we put our heads together. We think this is a good upgrade to our ordinances.”