LIVINGSTON, NJ — Despite a lengthy process to adjust the township’s peddling and solicitation ordinance to comply with first amendment rights—followed by the launch of a “Do Not Knock” list that hundreds of Livingston residents have since registered for—the governing body announced on Monday that one company in particular has continued to ignore the list.
According to the recently amended ordinance, solicitors should not be approaching any residences that appear on the “Do Not Knock” list, regardless of whether the home has the “Do Not Knock” decal posted by the door. However, several residents on the list have recently complained that representatives from Aptive Environmental LLC—the same company that challenged Livingston’s solicitation ordinance in 2018 and threatened to file a lawsuit if the township did not make certain changes—are still approaching their homes.
In order to address this issue, Township Attorney Sharon Weiner is looking to the community for help.
“[Aptive] is trying to sell exterminating contracts door to door, and these people have been ignoring the ‘Do Not Knock’ list and have been, in many cases, abusive,” said Weiner. “We’ve attempted to address this by speaking with [the company] and have verbally conveyed this to people with no avail. These people just go out and are obviously working on commission and are being very aggressive.”
In July of 2018, Weiner drafted a new door-to-door solicitation ordinance after the pest control service made threats to sue the township, claiming that Livingston’s 6 p.m. time restriction was infringing on the company’s constitutional right to commercial speech. When the amended ordinance was adopted unanimously in August, it included language about a “Do Not Knock” list that gives residents the opportunity to avoid being approached by licensed solicitors on their property.
The ordinance specifically states that all licensed solicitors will receive a list of addresses included on the “Do Not Knock” list and are directed not to approach any of those addresses—whether or not a decal is visible.
Weiner said she has attempted to speak with the company about these recent complaints, but cannot make any headway without specific details about where and when these incidents occurred.
The township is urging residents on the “Do Not Knock” list who receive a house call from a solicitor—especially if he or she is persistent or unruly—to call Livingston police, who have been instructed to come out and write a report on these incidents.
Weiner noted that there is currently a process in place that allows the township to revoke the company’s solicitation permit if its representatives do not comply with the ordinance. Also reiterating that this company has threatened to sue the township in the past and has moved forward with formal lawsuits against other municipalities for similar issues, Weiner said it is crucial that all residents file detailed complaints when these incidents occur.
“Hopefully if [Aptive] sees that we’re serious, they’ll start [to comply],” said Weiner. “I’ve sent them a copy of the ordinance, but we need the cooperation of the community. [Residents] are annoyed by these people, so let them help us get them to obey the rules.”
A copy of Livingston Township’s Peddling and Soliciting ordinance—which now addresses some of the language that Aptive Environmental claimed was “unconstitutional” and includes details of the application process as well as the times that solicitation is allowed—can be found HERE.
Those who have yet to register for the “Do Not Knock” list can still do so through the township’s online database or in person at the clerk’s office at Livingston Town Hall, 357 S. Livingston Avenue.
After registering, residents will receive a "Do Not Knock" sticker that can be placed in a visible area near the front door of the home.
Registered addresses will be maintained in an online database and will be included (without names) in a "Do Not Knock" printout provided to commercial solicitors going door to door. Per these guidelines, commercial solicitors are required to avoid approaching any addresses on the list.
If any residents on the list are still being solicited at their home, they should call the Livingston Police Department at 973-992-3000 to report the incident immediately. Per applicable state and federal laws the list does not prohibit visitation by non-profit, charitable, religious or political organizations.
Click on the headlines below to read more about the township’s dealings with Aptive Environmental and the steps taken to address the company’s concerns: