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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Upper Increases Maximum Fine for Illegal Dumping to $10K

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By Christopher South

PETERSBURG – The Upper Township Committee has increased the maximum penalties for illegal dumping in the township to $10,000 per incident and up to 90 days in the county jail with the passage of a new ordinance.

Possible penalties under the new ordinance also include loss of driving privileges. The ordinance provides for a $1,000 reward for people reporting illegal dumping.

Previously, the township could fine illegal dumpers only up to $1,000.

The committee also passed an ordinance that prohibits the storage of inoperable vehicles on private property, unless they are undergoing restoration.

The illegal dumping ordinance was an initiative of Committeeman Curtis Corson, who cited cases of people dumping off Bailey Road. Corson said he was interested in increasing the penalty for dumping to discourage people from doing so.

He said at an earlier meeting that he didn’t particularly want higher fines – he wanted people to stop dumping – and the higher fines might be a deterrent.

Township Solicitor Anthony Monzo said the actual amount of a fine in any given incident would be suggested by the township prosecutor and determined by the municipal court judge.

Monzo said the ordinance was patterned after the state statute on illegal dumping. State statutes set fines for littering and dumping, and according to bronzinolaw.com, the distinction is quantity.

“As is the case in most states, littering is different from illegal dumping in its quantity. Illegal dumping is the improper disposal of large quantities of waste, while littering is the improper disposal of small quantities,” the Bronzino Law website says.

Littering generally brings a fine of $100 to $500 in municipal court. In Upper Township, the intention was to address dumping, which can include anything from household waste to furniture, refrigerators and construction waste – anything people would not want to pay to dispose of.

Monzo said the intention of the ordinance was to establish fines permitted in municipal court, where fines are normally less than $10,000.

“This provides the maximum penalty provision for ordinance violations,” the solicitor said.

Those cited for illegal dumping by the state might face fines of up to $50,000. According to a state website, https://www.nj.gov/dep/stopdumping/enforcement.htm, which is associated with the Department of Environmental Protection, in addition to the $50,000 fine and arrest, “vehicles used to dump may also be confiscated and forfeited to the state.”

The website said violators might also be targeted by the DEP’s compliance and enforcement division, which could lead to an additional $50,000 per violation in penalties. The site says the state uses advanced technology, such as hidden wildlife cameras and other advanced intelligence systems, “to help ensure arrests and to provide the evidence necessary to penalize perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

The stopdumping.nj.gov website lists at least half a dozen incidents in Cape May County and names those who have been fined anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. One of the maximum fines involved dumping at Belleplain State Forest.

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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