Most New Jersey neighborhoods have at least a few properties that don’t resemble the rest. The grass has gone uncut for months, or debris has been sitting at the curb with no one scheduled to pick it up. While some towns struggle to keep things clean, others are doing something about it.


In Lower Township, Cape May County, unkempt properties aren’t only frowned upon; they’re illegal. Township Manager Mike Voll said there is a zero tolerance policy in place.

“If you have a property that’s in deplorable condition…we’re going to give you a summons, and you’re going to have to pay the summons to the court,” Voll said.

The inital fine is $50. With a second offense, though, violators are required to appear in court and explain to the judge why they’re struggling to keep up with maintenance. If an offender fails to show up, the township will do the clean-up work and place a lien against the property.

“The community is applauding Town Council for this effort,” Voll added. “The only ones complaining are the habitual violators.”

He said this is a successful attempt to keep Lower Township clean, and the policy puts that responsibility on the residents.