WARETOWN, NJ - Vacant and abandoned properties continue to plague Ocean Township. Local officials share in the frustration experienced by their constituency. A few years ago, the governing body even passed an ordinance that assessed fees against the owners of the vacant properties.

“As a township, we are trying to encourage owners to find a productive use of their property,” said Mayor Ken Baulderstone.

Currently, there are 78 properties that have been marked as vacant and abandoned. When the ordinance was introduced in 2017, the mortgage foreclosure crisis was credited with causing “serious negative implications.”

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According to the township ordinance, property owners are expected to complete registration statements concerning vacant buildings. This must be done within thirty days after the property becomes vacant. There’s also an initial registration fee of $750.

However, the preliminary cost only applies until the end of the calendar year.  Subsequently, new fees are allocated. A first renewal is $2,000 and a second is $3,000.  If a property remains vacant and abandoned more than two years, the owners face annual fees of $5,000.

In foreclosure actions, the creditors are charged with the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of vacant buildings. Otherwise, the ordinance calls for fines associated with the failure to “correct, abate or otherwise bring the property into compliance” for violations. The fines are set at $1,500 for each day of the violation.

In the meantime, taxes are still due and owing on vacant and abandoned buildings. In its heyday, the Thirsty Mallard was a popular restaurant on Route 9 across from Shop Rite. It now stands empty and considered an eyesore in its empty state.

That said, the log cabin style building still brings in tax revenue into the Ocean Township coffers.  The property owners of the six parcels of land pay the township over $37K annually in property taxes.