Government

North Plainfield Borough Council Approves ‘Do Not Knock’ Ordinance; Vote on Amendment to Soliciting Rules Expected March 13

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NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The North Plainfield Borough Council voted 4-0 on Feb. 27 in favor of creating a new section within its ‘police regulations’ code to include a ‘Do Not Knock List.’ A second ordinance, amending the ‘license required’ section of its ‘general licensing’ code, will be voted on at the March 13 meeting and is expected to also pass.

The addition of a ‘Do Not Knock List,’ which was introduced and passed by a vote of 5-0 on first reading at the council’s Feb. 14 meeting, would enable residents to notify the borough that those soliciting and/or canvassing are not permitted at their premises. Residents wishing to ‘opt out’ would be required to sign up for the Do Not Knock List by filing a form with the North Plainfield Borough Clerk.

“The main reason that the mayor and myself looked at adding this section to the ordinance is because a lot of residents have been complaining that they were being disturbed,” said North Plainfield Council President Larry La Ronde, who along with fellow members Keiona Miller, Doug Singleterry, and Frank ‘Skip’ Stabile, voted in favor of the ordinance; Everett Merrill, Frank Righetti, and Wendy Schaefer were not present.  

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“The ‘Do Not Knock List’ will provide an option for those who do not want solicitors knocking on their doors the option to opt-out,” La Ronde said.

North Plainfield Mayor Michael Giordano, Jr. added, “We’ve received a lot of complaints from residents and thought this was something that we should look into. I think it is a good thing.”

If the ‘Do Not Knock List’ is approved, residents who register with the borough clerk will receive a 2” by 6” sticker to post in a visible spot on their property. The placard will state ‘No solicitation is permitted pursuant to Section 3-17 of the Revised General Ordinances of the Borough of North Plainfield.’ The cost to residents, said La Ronde, would be under $1 per sticker.

The ‘Do Not Knock List’ will be updated through the borough clerk and resubmitted to the chief of police on a quarterly basis. The list will be distributed to all applicants seeking a license to solicit or canvass within the borough and, under the revised ordinance, no licensee will not be allowed to solicit or canvass at any address on the ‘Do Not Knock List.’

Under the proposed amended ordinance, any solicitor or canvasser violating the provisions of this section shall be punishable by fine and/or imprisonment as prescribed in Section 1-5 of the Revised General Ordinance of the Borough of North Plainfield entitled “General Penalty.” Violators also risk the loss of their licensee to solicit or canvas. This ‘Do Not Knock List,’ however, does not pertain to religious groups.

The North Plainfield Borough Council will also vote at its next meeting on updating and changing the ‘license required’ section of its ‘General Licensing’ code. Under the amended code, soliciting hours would change, permit fees would increase and background checks of all solicitors would be required.

Currently, soliciting and canvassing is allowed in the borough Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the amended ordinance is approved, soliciting and canvassing hours would be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. those same days.

“The state feels that, because most residents are working families and are not getting home until after 5 p.m., extending the hours gives [solicitors] more of a chance to talk with homeowners,” La Ronde said.

The amended code would also enable the borough to increase permit fees – now at $5 per year – to $25 per solicitor per $60 days or $100 per solicitor for the year. Additionally, background checks would be required on all persons planning to solicit. For example, if a company is seeking to solicit/canvass the area, each employee scheduled to go door-to-door must pass a background check.

“Companies will have to give us a list of every individual who will be out canvassing and a background check will be done on each and every person from that company before a permit is handed out,” said La Ronde.

The amended ‘general licensing’ code, if approved, and the ‘Do Not Knock List’ will work hand-in-hand in that licensed and verified solicitors will not be allowed to knock on the doors of those residents who have opted out.

“Those looking to solicit in the borough will receive a compiled list maintained by the borough clerk and the chief of police of those homes they cannot go to,” said La Ronde, adding that neither the new ordinance not the amended one pertain to religious groups as they are except from these guidelines.

The next meeting of the North Plainfield Borough Council will be held on Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. Meetings take place at the municipal building on Somerset Street and the public is welcome to attend.

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