An ordinance introduced Tuesday night by the Wyckoff Township Committee proposes to ban "loud, unnecessary or unusual noise," disturbances, fighting, and obstruction of free passage, both on public and semi-private property.
"Essentially this is an ordinance that is designed to prevent disturbances of the peace," Mayor Chris DePhillips said. "It was surprising to me that heretofore we had not had a disturbing of the peace-type ordinance in our code."
Committeeman Kevin Rooney said that the creation of the ordinance stemmed "not only from the two incidents that occurred in Boulder Run over the summer," but that there had been an "ongoing concern with quite a bit of out of town juveniles congregating."
He called the proposal a "great start" to solving the problem.
The township officials stressed that the proposal doesn't just apply to Boulder Run, but focused much of the discussion Tuesday night on the Franklin Avenue property.
The township had tried to schedule a meeting with Boulder Run owner Bryan Hekemian with no luck, DePhillips said. According to Committeeman Doug Christie, Hekemian is not currently aware of the proposed ordinance.
When the committee initially floated its intention to draft the anti-loitering ordinance in August, Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox raised concerns centered on constitutionality and enforcement issues.
DePhillips, however, said that on Tuesday Fox had "reiterated his support for the ordinance."
"There are other mechanisms available to the chief to control what we believe is objectionable behavior in Boulder Run and other places — that being the criminal code," DePhillips said. "But this provides one additional tool to law enforcement to control that type of behavior."
DePhillips said Fox provided him with police reports from this year that detailed verbal disputes, intoxicated persons, reckless driving, skateboarding and "other types of activity that [are] dangerous that you would not expect in a place where people are supposedly going in to shop, or to eat, or to get a cup of coffee, and then returning to their cars to leave."
Committeeman Brian Scanlan, who supports the ordinance, later raised the question of constitutionality again with Township Attorney Rob Landel, who responded that "peace and good order" laws exist in other towns.
"While it's not a traditional loitering ordinance, which the courts have struck down because of vagueness, I think this goes a little more into specifics and is a little more into a disorderly person ordinance," Landel said.
The ordinance, which is attached to this story, defines public places then goes on to detail the banned actions:
A. The following conduct in or about public places shall be prohibited:
a. Creating or causing to be created a breach of the peace.
b. Creating or causing to be created any disturbance or annoyance to the comfort and repose of any person.
c. Causing and/or maintaining any obstruction which prohibits the free passage of vehicular or pedestrian traffic on any street, alley, sidewalk or public place as well as any parking area or area appurtenant to any commercial establishment, including stores and shopping centers.
d. Making or uttering of unsolicited remarks of an offensive, abusive, profane, disgusting or insulting nature or which are calculated to annoy or disturb the person to whom they are made, in any public place as defined in §144-1.
e. Fighting or other conduct disruptive to the public peace.
f. Creating, continuing, causing or allowing to be made any loud, unnecessary or unusual noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others.
B. It shall be unlawful for any owner, lessee, tenant, occupant and/or person in charge of any commercial property to cause, permit or allow any conduct of persons and/or business invitees on such commercial property, which is in violation of the Chapter.
The committee unanimously supported the introduction of the ordinance.
The proposed law will be discussed at the next Wyckoff Township Committee meeting on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m., according to Township Administrator Bob Shannon.
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