COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Committee introduced an ordinance, May 15, to define and regulate temporary structures such as tents and canopies.
While the ordinance would have several potential applications, the one most discussed at the meeting was the regulation of homeless encampments.
A township release calls the ordinance “a vital tool” to address Rio Grande encampments, which the township says create “fire risks and sanitary issues.”
The ordinance defines temporary structures and states they “may not be utilized for habitation.”
During public comment at the meeting, some residents spoke out on the township’s homeless problem, arguing that the township and the county need to do more than just drive the homeless from one temporary location to another.
Mayor Timothy Donohue said, “No one is out to punish anyone.”
He spoke of the need to respect property rights and address the frustrations of property owners with unauthorized homeless encampments.
Donohue said the problem of homelessness is complex and solutions cannot be achieved by any single municipality. He argued that the township and the county are working to develop better services and options for the homeless.
In the meantime, Donohue said, the township must manage the problem “in a humane way,” while still protecting property rights.
The ordinance will come up for second reading and a public hearing at a June 19 committee meeting.
stay in the know