Neighboring residents refer to it as the “haunted house,” a blighted and abandoned property on Winchester Drive in Brick that township officials say has been unoccupied for 15 years.
Soon, the property may become the latest addition to the township’s abandoned properties list, established earlier this year to give the township more power to step in when homes are abandoned, falling into disrepair and creating a hazard to neighbors.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so horrific in my life,” Council President Susan Lydecker said.
Recently, a crew from the township went to the property clean up the grounds and cut the grass. The bill for the crew’s efforts: $2,498. For comparative purposes, the usual bill for the township having to mow a lawn is between $50 or $60, Lydecker said, showing the depth of the property’s disrepair. The paint on the house is crumbling and flaking off, the roof is in bad shape, and its front door is home to a stack of township violation notices that are attached.
Nestled in an otherwise neatly-kept neighborhood of ranch-style homes near Arrowhead Park in the Midstreams section, the “haunted house” has sat vacant for the better part of a decade and a half, but township officials say its owner, listed on tax records as Stewart L. Paynter, of Manasquan, has kept up with the taxes. The same records indicate a slew of property maintenance charges to the home, going back to at least 2008, have been paid by its owner. When the township’s abandoned properties ordinance was passed earlier this year, Mayor John Ducey spoke specifically of the hypothetical issue of an abandoned property where the taxes were paid. The ordinance sets forth a framework under which the township can take action, including potential demolition.
“We’re working with the code enforcement and building departments on getting this property on the abandoned properties list to see if we can get some action taken on it,” Lydecker said.