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Scofflaws, Beware: Cinnaminson Code Crackdown Coming

Officials plan to target code violators with increase enforcement efforts. But who should lead efforts? And how much will it cost?

 

Brush left curbside for weeks. Trashcans languishing in the road for days. Waist-high grass and inoperable clunkers parked on neighborhood streets. Township committee members have seen it all around Cinnaminson and they’re ready to take a hard line against such code violations.

Soon it may be possible for neighbors to more easily report violations as well, helping identify and squash minor issues before they became major neighborhood headaches. Questions remain though: Who should oversee code enforcement? Will a reporting system (and, presumably, annoyed neighbors) overwhelm township employees? How much will a reporting system cost?

While code enforcement isn’t the most exciting undertaking, Cinnaminson officials say it will help protect the town’s property values.

“I think it’s really important,” Committeewoman Kathy Fitzpatrick. “I don’t want to be heavy-handed in our approach, but I certainly feel like it’s important that our code enforcement officer address the problems … so that we can maintain our image as a good family community.

“It all ties together. If someone maintains their property, it might encourage their neighbors to maintain their property.”

It’s time for Cinnaminson to crack down, agreed Committeeman Ben Young, who works closely with public works and has led efforts to get residents in compliance with brush rules. Committee members said brush and leaf violations are perhaps the most common complaint they receive.

“(Residents) have had 18 months of education. We’re going to start writing tickets,” Young said. “We’ve been nice, we’ve been cooperative … and if there are situations when a discussion will fix a problem, we should do that. But there are times when a discussion doesn’t work.”

Needed: manager and ground troops

Property maintenance issues have swelled as the economy has dropped, leading to more vacant homes and more code violations, Deputy Mayor Anthony Minniti noted.

Code violations are already ticking up and will continue to with more focus on enforcement. Any reporting system that allows online complaints could create a glut of investigations for the township to undertake. So, committee needs to figure out how to best handle code enforcements.

Committee discussed that at its Nov. 12 meeting as part of a set of recommendations on streamlining township functions. Township administrator Frank Locantore recommended committee designate a single person in charge of overseeing all code violations, from investigating initial reports to testifying at court cases to the conclusion.

Currently, zoning officer John Marshall also handles code enforcement, a change made when his position converted to full-time. Committee needs to decide whether Marshall should manage code enforcement oversight or whether to hire a dedicated part-time enforcement officer and revert the zoning officer to part-time as well.

Either way, Locantore said, “I would recommend that all code enforcement activities flow through one person. … You have one person following through with noticing, following through with court, making sure that the case has been heard and the problems addressed.” It avoids a mixed message, he added.

Cinnaminson also needs to train its entire workforce, especially employees out and about in town during the day, to recognize and report violations, Minniti said.

“By making that part of the culture of what they do, it’s a huge step forward,” he said.

Finding a reporting mechanism

No matter who is in charge or reporting problems, Cinnaminson doesn’t have the capacity to follow through on increased code enforcement right now, Committeeman John Rooney said. The town’s pen-and-paper approach to logging violations isn’t efficient or detailed enough, he added.

“We don’t have the infrastructure,” Rooney said. “A software solution enables the hybrid solution to work. The hybrid solution is that we want all employees to look for (violations) but we want to give them a vehicle to easily report it, so it’s a manageable work flow.”

Reporting software runs from free (but not recommended, Rooney said) programs installed on the town’s website to a $10,000 per year system. Committee directed Locantore to investigate options for consider at a future meeting.

Are you itching to report a code violations in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments. And don’t forget to follow Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Silvia November 16, 2012 at 09:21 PM
SERIOUSLY People! The leave and brush schedule they posted is very accurate and they are not fining anybody if people follow it. They sent directions home with your tax bills, post notices on their website and fb site, and announce it at their meetings, what more do you want? Brush collection is done this month but they still collect leaves also, leaves only next month. It isn’t that hard to follow if you pay attention. Mine was picked up last week as they said it would be! Thank you Public Works!
Jenn November 16, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Public works doing their job means using municipal property ( ie bulldozers) for personal use and using township assets to perform work for other customers in the county. Wasnt that a cinnaminson leaf truck i saw collecting leaves in moorestown last week?
Mj November 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Leaf & branch pick up? Is that the most serious problem in this town? I live next door to Sanford & Son. They pick up everyon's trash and put it in their backyard, which happens to face 3 windows in my house. If I wanted to sell my house I couldn't. Twp & police have been there numerous times and nothing has changed in years. Time for more than a slap on the wrist. ANGRY IN CINNAMINSON
noyb November 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Its not always perfect. My pick up is supposed to be second week. Of course that means saturday morning at 9 am they ripped thru woth a front end loaded picking up the brush. unfortunately I didnt get out last weekend to put my brush out I had a wedding so now I must wait till next month. Leaves are just a mess in this town. You cant clean these up with a front end loader the street looks worse now than it did with the piles. I lived in Maple Shade for a few years and Cinnaminson could learn a thing or 2 from those guys. It didnt matter when I put my leaves/brish out they came around every week with a chipper and a giant leaf sucking truck. left the curb spotless and clear! Cinnaminson busted my curb with the front end loader and left the street a mess. I guess you get what you pay for. I will be putting my leaves out whenever I have the time to do it, dont worry I will put the citation on top of the pile so you dont forget to pick that garbage up too.
Louis November 17, 2012 at 12:27 AM
That is a fantastic suggestion. Public Works is anything but helpful. I moved here from Pennsauken and was very surprised by the "friendliness" at the Public Works office of Cinnaminson. When I had a problem in Pennsauken I called the head of PW, a few hours later he was at my house solving the problem himself! When I moved here I didn't have a yellow can for plastic. I guess the old tenant took it or got rid of it. When I went to the PW of Cinnaminson and told them I just moved in they looked at me like I was trying to scam them out of a yellow can. I wrote an email to the head of PW in Cinnaminson. I was sent a price list of the blue and yellow cans. Yup, very helpful and friendly folks at PW Cinnaminson.
Bill O'Connor November 17, 2012 at 01:07 AM
First let me say the Public Works department has done the best job possible following a massive storm. Kudos, to Ben Young, Fred Turek and Fred Rodi (Supervisor) and the workers doing the clean-up effort. The PW can't be everywhere at once. However, the initial message I heard was put your brush to the curb. That was followed a few days later by in your appropriate week. Many people acted on the first message with their property clean-up. I know my neighbor and myself cut up and put out our elderly neighbors storm damage. There has to be some leeway here until the storm damage brush is removed. Overall, I agree with the Committee. We need to curb the issues now. This is probably one of the few areas where Mr. Minniti and I agreed when I served on the Committee. There needs to be a sense of responsibility and accountability on the part of the homeowner. Otherwise, property values can and will continue drop in our community. Ric, John Marshall is currently a full time Zoning officer along with some Economic Development responsibilities that he once had as part of his job duties.
FbS November 17, 2012 at 01:24 AM
That would never happen Eric. I know how to follow the rules.. :) My grass is always cut, trash cans up same day, no brush or leaves out at the wrong time, Its simple really. Ya have respect and follow for the rules and you will never get in trouble
FbS November 17, 2012 at 01:26 AM
It is mark... I don't have any alliance to anyone in power, I just tell the truth. I be careful doing what is expected to be a good neighbor. :)
FbS November 17, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Amen Sylvia. I guess some people find it hard to follow the rules..?
Bruce November 17, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Exactly....the manpower used to WRITE TICKETS should first be used to CLEAN UP the storm refuse...Once that mission is completed, if you are not plowing snow, come on out and write up all those evil leaf pilers. LOL
Bruce November 17, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Of course the costs will be higher than the revenue!....you don't think you are going to MAKE MONEY siting code violators do you?...People are moving from Cinnaminson as they reach retirement age because they simply can't afford the taxes...and it's going to get much worse ..real soon.
Bruce November 17, 2012 at 01:54 AM
How about this: We get a refund on our taxes every time the township fails to show up on the dates they promised?...If it's fair to fine us for setting it out on the wrong day....well....fair's fair...what goes around comes around....Let's make THEM accountable! ;-D
Bruce November 17, 2012 at 01:56 AM
There's your tax dollars hard at work! Busting YOUR chops rather than doing their jobs.
Eric November 17, 2012 at 02:31 AM
I love how you say oh that would never happen like you're invincible or something. I also find it ironic that EVERYONE else who commented on this article said that the township does not come around at the scheduled times to clean up leaves and brush and then turns around and fines people for having leaves and brush out on the curb. Everyone except you who not only disagrees and claims that the township comes out when they're supposed to but then slams your own neighbors saying that they put brush and leaves at the wrong time. It's a wonder how your neighbors don't hate you by now. I seriously wonder what your neighbors think of you when you make comments like that. I bet you think the township does a great job plowing the streets too since you're so delusional and are too stupid to realize that the streets look just as bad as before the township plowed them.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Just as an FYI John Marshall is not, nor ever has he ever been, a full time zoning officer. He does not and has never had any authority or role in economic development. This information is from a committeeman I spoke to this week.
Bull Pitt November 17, 2012 at 05:32 AM
"Approves" them Sylvia, not prosecute them. All Ordinances go through the Solicitor for "approval". And we aren't talking about fighting the Ordinances in Court, we're talking about lawsuits.
Inspector Gadget November 17, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Wow, nice reporting and investigating Christina! Very impressive...
Joe November 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM
So, Cinnaminson wants to charge people who don't follow the code. How about when the Public works does not do their job, like plowing curb to curb ( supposed to) in the winter months. They come down the middle of the road and just move on. No cars parked on the street. Homeowner is left with mounds of snow 5 feet out from the curb to shovel. Its just not right. This after calling public works and asking them if they will be back. They tell you yes, but never do. Maybe this year I will send you my bill for doing your job.
Joe November 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
yup...one year they ripped my paperbox out with their grabber.
John Doe November 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
People spend All day raking leaves and piling curbside for the township to scoop them up with a backhoe? Wth? They make more of a mess spreading them around and leaving leaves behind to delay proper drainage. C'mon where's the money going? Even broke Willingboro has a vac truck. Who ever thought using a backhoe to collect leaves is an idiot! Restructure this whole pw debt.
newshound November 17, 2012 at 03:09 PM
it always is, and always will be about the townships revenue..bottom line - in what way can the township enforce the rules to bring in more money?..and those who think because they "follow the rules" they will never get caught up with some violation of something then they are delusional or connected- an officer once told me that if he wanted to find something to give me a ticket for then he could..what a great feeling of security.."following the rules" ?? - i like to believe i do - but obviously there are rules on the books that i dont know exist...and obviously some individuals who can work their way around them..
Vic November 17, 2012 at 05:21 PM
What a total waste of time that leaves are picked up with a front end loader and that "pincher" thing they use. It leaves a bigger mess on the road than they started with. Then there are the branches, that they load into the back of a township truck, with branches sticking out all over the place, and then drive to the public works building with leaves and branches falling out on the way. What happened to the "Chipper" for branches, and the big "Vaccuum" for leaves?? It appears to me that Cinnaminson has gone in reverse when it comes to this kind of technology. And it cannot be more economical, can it???
Vic November 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM
John Marshall has been working for this township almost before you were born Christina. He was also working for this Township before Tony, Ben, Kathy, Don or John were ever on Committee. Whoever this "committeeman" is that you talked to, (and everyone knows they have it in for John Marshall) has no idea what John Marshall's role has been in Economic Development before they were even involved in township business, so for you to say "he has never had any role" is unjustified and with a total lack of investigation. You can print a comment like that based on one "committeeman's" claim?? That's investigating? I'll bet that John Marshall would have a little to say about that. You can bet that someone who has been in that building longer than almost anyone else there, surely had some "role" in the Economic Development of this town. And depending on what you actually mean by "authority", I would not believe that either. It surprises me that you report and says things in print and take it for fact because one "committeeman" said it's true. Now, instead of defending your post, why don't you first check into the facts, or ask John Marshall himself, then reply. I could be wrong, but I surely would never print something as fact when it came from one "committeeman".
Ric November 17, 2012 at 06:23 PM
@Vic. I am glad to know I am not the only one who thought John Marshall was being made a scapegoat. I hope he stays in. And I agree with you that it would be great to hear what Mr. Marshall's has to say in addition to the thoughts of that unnamed committeeman. For the life of me I do not understand why we needed the very expensive services of First Jersey Municipal Assistance. It seems to me that they are a bunch of guys being paid more government money on top of their fat government pensions. Maybe the answers the committee-people were looking for could have come from our talented in-house staff. Or perhaps the answers could come from our accounting firm who in the course of their various municipal audits would have observed how the various townships handle these responsibilities.
Bill O'Connor November 17, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Christina with all due respect to you, Mr. Marshall, myself, former Committeeman Kollar and even Mr Minniti have met, greeted, and discussed perspective development projects along Rt. 130. Most times when I had these site meetings Mr. Marshall was clearly involved or he has a twin brother.To clarify, I am not senile YET nor do lie. It was when I was on Committee that Mr Marshall went from a part time zoning officer to full time with the added responsibility of Economic Development. That is how we justified moving him from a part time status to a full time status. Please if I post on here and you have an issue with my post, you can call me for clarification of my comments before you respond. Please go look at the 2001 and 2002 meeting minutes to clarify Mr. Marshall's status.
John November 17, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I guess its not in the budget for a new Vaccuum leaf pick up truck....but we can over look a new car and say ooooppppsssss I did not see it....oh well.....I still have several trees with leaves on them and they will not fall now....some one better check the calendar.....
Donkey Kong November 17, 2012 at 11:09 PM
@Christina: After seeing Mr. O'Connor's comments above, you might want to think and investigate a little more before you print anything those bunch of liars tell you. I'm not sure which one told you that, but I wouldnt put my trust in anything that comes out of any of their mouths. How many times do people have to ask you to "investigate" before you print. And by investigation, it means BOTH sides of a story and perhaps a little background. Or is this kind of like the investigation you claimed to be working on with the new CFO? You have again proven your loyalty to the Captain and his Team.
marlowe5227 November 17, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Patchers, Any comment with false or misleading information will be deleted. If not, they're gone. Any problems? Email me at christina.paciolla@patch.com.
noyb November 18, 2012 at 12:01 AM
the problem here is the threats made about not following the "rules". I have personally been working 16 hr shifts since the storm. I was off last saturday so i could go to a friends wedding. Today was my first day not working from storm related issues, so today I did my leaves. they are out front ready to be picked up unfortunately I missed the pick up last week I was just a tad busy. Now I have to hear about the fines im going to get for putting them out at the wrong date and how ugly it looks. At least I have enough pride in my property to clean it up. I say hand out my fine and they can watch me never pay it. Sue me. I'd rather rent a dump truck and fill it with my leaves, then dump the entire thing in the middle of the parking lot of the municipal building. BTW, John Marshal is a %@$%@&#@! always has been and will be until the day he dies.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Due to the excessive use of profanity, which is against our terms of service, this comment section has been shut down. Any issues? E-mail christina.paciolla@patch.com.

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