The signs dot lawns all across Toms River’s North Dover section: “Don’t Sell! Toms River Strong.”
The black-and-white lawn signs have become a rallying cry for a town whose residents have described as being seemingly under siege by real estate solicitors, primarily from Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community. Similar descriptions have come from residents of Lakewood’s other neighbor, Jackson. Toms River has gone so far as to pass an ordinance levying an outright ban on soliciting in several of the affected neighborhoods after residents reported “blockbusting” tactics – using, in this case, religious and ethnic stereotypes to try to persuade residents to sell their homes.
In Brick, there have been some anecdotal reports of door-to-door soliciting, but none formally imparted to township officials, said Mayor John Ducey.
“So far, it hasn’t happened here,” he said.
Through an Open Public Records Act request, Shorebeat obtained all of the soliciting permits sought by commercial applicants in the most recent reporting cycle, which dates back to November 2015. Unlike in Jackson, where a similar request from a news outlet generated evidence that real estate solicitors with ties to the Orthodox community were actively canvassing, no such real estate agencies had applied for permits in Brick.
Three vendors are currently licensed to conduct door-to-door soliciting in Brick: James Caloa of Vivint Solar, Mary O’Malley-Joyce of Heritage House Realty in Shrewsbury, and Matthew MacDermant of Weed Man Lawn Care.
Ducey said the complaints he does hear from residents often stem from charitable soliciting being conducted by the Garden State Youth Club, which often dispatches children from inner city neighborhood into Brick to seek donations door-to-door. The group does apply for permits, though using youth to solicit now falls under additional regulations recently put into place by the township council.
In December, along with the restrictions on using youth solicitors, Brick strengthened its “no knock” ordinance to include a prohibition on using blockbusting tactics.
“We haven’t had those complaints at all here in Brick, but since we were doing the age and the hours, we wanted to firm everything up to be proactive so we don’t have any problems in the future,” Council President Paul Mummolo said at the time.