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Keep it Down in There: Galloway Considering Animal House Ordinance

Township is considering a fine and a bond ordinance for landlords whose property violates Galloway's noise ordinance twice in two years.

Galloway Township is now considering a noise ordinance following a few incidents involving college-age students over the past few months.

Council tabled an ordinance Tuesday night that would’ve introduced an ordinance amending township code to hold landlords and tenants alike responsible for noise violations. It was titled “Landlord Responsibility,” and is often referred to as an “Animal House Ordinance.”

The ordinance that was to be introduced Tuesday night is based on the ordinances originally designated for Jersey Shore towns, but was recently expanded to encompass all communities.

That ordinance calls for a property to be deemed an “Animal House” if the property was found to be disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous” on two occasions within a two-year period, resulting in prosecution and conviction. The landlord of such a property would then be required to post a bond. In Belmar, for example, that bond can be up to $5,000.

Galloway's code book specifically holds a landlord responsible for the actions of his or her tenants.

Township Manager Arch Liston tabled the proposed ordinance because he felt it was “too procedural.”

“I’d rather see the landlord charged on the second or third call. He can post a bond, and then we can bring him to court, too,” Liston said. “It’s a problem that we have to solve right away.”

Township Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald said it’s not unusual to see a combination fine and bond penalty.

One resident referenced a recent party in which 200 college-aged kids showed up at a party that eventually had to be broken up by five Galloway Police and two Stockton College Police units.

He added he was shocked there was no such ordinance already in place in a town that has housed the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey for 40 years.

Glassboro has an ordinance that covers “disorderly houses,” and penalizes violators with an initial fine of $200 without a court appearance, followed by fines of between $200 and $2,000, up to 90 days in jail or both for any subsequent violation. Glassboro is home to Rowan University.

Following the meeting, Mayor Don Purdy said this only became an issue recently.

“We have a little more people renting houses through the town now, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed,” Purdy said. “I like the idea of going in front of a judge. This doesn’t have to be complicated.”

“The township is more populated now,” Galloway Police Chief Pat Moran said. “It’s something that’s getting worse year after year, and if we don’t address it, it’s only going to get worse.”

Moran said the police department deals with noise issues all over the township, and that violators usually don’t give them a problem when they have to respond to a complaint. He also said college students are not necessarily always the cause of the problem, and that Stockton provides assistance in these situations, when applicable.

“Stockton’s been proactive,” Moran said. “They have the ability to speak with their students. They can take administrative action. We can give them fines, but Stockton can kick them out of school.”

“We need a quick remedy,” Councilman Jim Gorman said, adding the ordinance needs a little more definition. “If there’s one violation by one group, and then they move out and the next group moves in, and is causing problems, do we start over again with the new group? It needs to be defined better.”

keepgallowaysafe September 26, 2013 at 04:03 PM
The noise ordinance in this township is not clearly defined. Therefore, whenever someone wants to complain about their neighbor or whoever, they call the GTPD's dispatch number where they are told that nothing can be done. That also unnecessarily ties up the dispatchers explaining what the ordinance is. The township could do a better job of advertising it thereby helping the residents and the police department.

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