Toms River bans real estate solicitors from much of town
For the next five years, real estate solicitors will be banned entirely from most of the North Dover section of Toms River — the latest strike back against a practice residents say has become increasingly aggressive.
The Asbury Park Press reports a 5-0 vote at Tuesday night's Township Council meeting put a five-year "cease-and-desist" zone into effect, after 16 residents spoke in favor of the ban and none against it. Residents open to solicitations can make their wishes known at the Township Clerk's office.
Residents had been increasingly complaining about persistent real estate agents going door-to-door asking them to sell their homes — often seeking homes for the Lakewood area's growing Orthodox Jewish population.
“The growth in Lakewood is a sign of the great quality of life which is attracting all these people,” Avi Schnall, the state director of Agudath Israel, a national grassroots advocacy and social service organization representing Orthodox Jews, told the Associated Press this week.
“However, the challenge is being able to keep up with the influx,” Schnall added. “This has driven people to take residents in nearby towns, where houses are more available and affordable.”
Toms River is one of multiple communities that has tried to address the aggressive solicitations with so-called "no-knock" ordinances. Its law was first put in place in 2004 and strengthened last year. Authorities have said solicitors have ignored no-knock door stickers issued by the municipality, and homeowners have reported being harassed or even threatened by solicitors.
Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher told Townsquare Media the new ordinance was proposed to protect residents against harassment and intimidating conduct.
"People's homes are their biggest investment, generally speaking, and to threaten that or to threaten their way of life, we found to be outrageous," he said.
Kelaher said Toms River's ordinance was modeled after an existing law in a municipality in upstate New York that was dealing with the same issue. He said the ordinance withstood legal challenges, and was upheld by the federal second-circuit court of appeals in New York.
Dianne DeOliveira contributed to this report