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DeMarzo Questions ‘Clean and Lien’ Procedure

By Lauren Suit

WILDWOOD — Last August, the city introduced an ordinance that commissioners hoped will spur property owners to keep their building exteriors and lots clean.
Commonly called the “clean and lien” law, it would be the duty of the property owner, operator or resident to keep their premises free of hazards such as: refuse, natural growth, overhangings, ground surface hazards or unsanitary conditions, sources of infestation and lawns or plantings should be kept trimmed and kept from becoming overgrown.
Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said on Aug. 27, a year later, that the ordinance was working for the betterment of the city. He estimated that public works has probably cut a thousand lawns since the ordinance was voted on.
“People had been complaining that the city was a dump and we worked to change that and clean it up,” he said.
Commissioner Gary DeMarzo questioned the procedure involved in the “clean and liens.”
“There is no due process,” DeMarzo said. “The present system does not seem to afford the homeowner the opportunity to pay or dispute the charges levied by the city prior the implementation of a lien.”
“There is a procedure,” responded Troiano. “The process is to notify the homeowner through certified mail, then do the work, then bill them.”
“We don’t issue another letter,” Troiano added.
In a memo to the commissioners, DeMarzo asked for a moratorium on the implementation of “clean and liens” against properties.
He said that he is “not advocating that any of the inspectors discontinue the proactive and diligent work they do. I am simply placing a hold on the placement of a lien until I understand certain procedures.”
“These people are notified and given time to clean it up,” countered Troiano. “It is not just a case where we cut their grass and put a lien on the property. They get multiple calls, a letter notifying them and then the grass is cut.”
The discussion led to more raised voices and another point of contention between Troiano and DeMarzo until Commissioner Bill Davenport interjected that the ordinance may need to be changed to reflect certain emergency situations.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing because it has made a difference,” added Troiano.
Contact Suit at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or lsuit@cmcherald.com

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