Kenilworth looks to amend, tighten soliciting ordinances

KENILWORTH, NJ — The police department and borough council are looking to adjust local soliciting and peddling ordinance following resident concerns voiced at the April 11 council meeting.

Resident Patty Fugett told the council there have been three incidents in the past six months in which the police have been called about solicitors who refused to leave private property in her neighborhood.

“The first incident was on my yard,” she said. “The next thing I knew was that there were two people inside my garage, and they would not leave. We finally got them to leave and called the police.”

Requesting a change in the existing ordinance, Fugett told the council that current solicitation rights are being given too freely.
“When officers come, they find permits are expired, they find they do not have proper identification or they find that they have not even applied for a permit,” Fugett said.

Police Chief John Zimmerman told LocalSource that while the department receives phone calls about the issue approximately 50 to 100 times per year, the most recent one “broke the camel’s back,” and the solicitor had an expired permit, he said.

The current ordinance calls for permits issued for 30 days that can be renewed within 60 days of their expiration, and limits soliciting to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“If the solicitors fall under the guidelines, they have the right to the ordinance,” Zimmerman said. “However, we are working to see if residents should put some type of sticker or decal on their door that would deter solicitors from knocking on their door. Nothing has been solidified, but we are in the process of doing something.”

In addition to Fugett’s concerns, a petition being circulated on the website MoveOn.org currently has 106 signatures from Kenilworth residents and urges the council to adopt a no-solicitation ordinance.

“With so many complaints and the safety of the town’s residents, solicitors are constantly knocking on doors when it comes to safety of the residents giving out information this can be very dangerous,” the petition writes.

“Also it takes 10 seconds for something to happen to a resident and identity theft can destroy their future.”
The organizer of the petition drive, Carmen Bucco, also asked the council at the April 11 meeting to pass a stricter ordinance that further limits the hours solicitors can operate.

Acknowledging the online petition, Councilman Mark David responded that the council can’t legally prevent certain groups of people from soliciting, but can adjust the times.

“There has always been a lot of complaints about solicitors, they come to my house the same,” David said.
“I know for a fact we are looking to tweak the solicitation ordinance we have now.”

Mayor Anthony DeLuca added the borough already has a comprehensive ordinance and registration process for soliciting and peddling in place, but that it is “not being followed or there is something amiss.”

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