New laws bring limits to knocking, dropping


MILLTOWN – Residents who prefer peace, privacy and pristine properties will perhaps pour praises onto the Borough Council for two new ordinances.

The “do not knock” and “do not drop” orders will allow residents of Milltown to opt out of practices like door-to-door solicitations, and fliers and circulars being thrown on their lawns and sidewalks.

“I think they’re good steps in the right direction, I really do,” Mayor Gloria Bradford said.

Originally proposed by Councilman Mike Skarzynski, the “do not knock” ordinance has already been adopted by the council. It is now unlawful for anyone to solicit door to door without first obtaining a $200 license from the town. The licensing fee will be used to conduct background checks on individuals applying to solicit door to door, Skarzynski said.

“Not only is it an annoyance problem, it’s a safety problem,” Skarzynski said.

Having spent 25 years in the field of criminal justice, Skarzynski, chief of staff at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center, North Brunswick, said he has often heard about crimes being committed by those posing as door-to-door salespeople. Such crimes are frequently perpetrated against senior citizens, he said.

Some groups will still be able to solicit at homes without a license, for legal reasons. Nonprofit organizations like churches or the borough’s rescue squad, which conducts an annual door-to-door fund drive, will not be affected by the law. Other exempt groups will be those selling newspapers or periodicals, and anyone who owns a business in town, Skarzynski said.

Residents who do not sign up to have their households included under the ordinance will continue to be subject to all types of solicitations.

“In a perfect world, would I have liked to make it a little bit stronger? Yes, but we don’t want to put the town in the position of any potential liability by violating anybody’s First Amendment rights,” Skarzynski said.

Borough officials also had to be careful when drafting the “do not drop” ordinance, as other towns in the state have faced litigation as a result of trying to put an end to unsolicited paper materials delivered to residents.

According to Skarzynski, Borough Attorney Patrick Deignan consulted with Woodbridge officials, who had worked the kinks out of a similar ordinance in their town.

“I figured, if other towns can do it, why can’t Milltown,” Skarzynski said.

Unanimously introduced at the council’s Sept. 24 meeting, the ordinance will be voted on for adoption Oct. 8.

The new regulation, which will be an amendment to the borough’s litter ordinance, will also require residents who want to limit the delivery of unsolicited materials to register their households with the borough. From there, the clerk’s office will supply delivery personnel with the list, Skarzynski said.

Deliverers will be required to drop materials within 10 feet of the front entrance of a residence that has been placed on the list. This is meant to help eliminate the problems of litter on streets and sidewalks, jammed mowers and snowblowers, and perhaps most importantly, clogged sewers, Skarzynski said.

“The litter is atrocious when these people come by and toss the ads,” Bradford said.

Newspapers like the Sentinel will also be affected by the ordinance.

Though the “do not drop” ordinance aims to curb litter issues, it will only be fully successful if residents opt into it.

“You’re in control of your own destiny with this,” Skarzynski said. “We’re hopeful that the majority of the town will sign up for this.”

According to Skarzynski, the problem of printed materials being left on streets and properties has been ongoing, with residents voicing complaints to the council for years.

“[The ordinances] are designed to improve the quality of life, and I think that they will,” Bradford said.