Proposed Ordinance 2018-18 In Hackettstown

Introduction, an ordinance, 2018-18, to establish a Certificate of Continuing Occupancy.

That was on the agenda at Monday's council meeting.

I heard a small portion of an interview on WRNJ this afternoon where the Mayor I believe was stating inspections would be conducted in order to be sure code standards are being met. An example noted was a bedroom added in a lower level that may not have approved egress or may not have had permits pulled prior to the addition of that bedroom for example. I only heard a blip so I'm unsure of what else was discussed.

I surely don't like the sound of "inspections" however I have not read a copy of this proposal yet. I am hopeful someone can help shed some light on what the ordinance is looking to accomplish as well as some particulars.

I'll stop in the municipal building tomorrow to see if there is a copy for public review.

It is only for when selling your home or when new tenants go into a rental unit. Must show that house is up to code prior to selling. So don’t worry Greg there won’t be random inspections in town.

Much like you need a CO when selling a brand new home, now you need a CCO when selling/ renting a used home to show the house is still up to code

Greg, if you haven't done anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about now do you!!!

Excellent, now we won’t need the added expense of a home inspection if the town is taking over that responsibility!

justintime justintime
November 28th

Dadof3, It’s not about doing something illegal, it’s about government overreach

This was required in two towns I lived in in the past before I could sell...........

So wait, there is no more being grandfathered for older homes? Homes now have to continually be brought up to code whenever they are sold or new tenants move in?

Does this apply to everything in the home or only new work?

I was thinking it was likely related to rental units. Again, I only heard a small portion of the interview. I couldn't imagine all residencies would need to be inspected annually That would be a bit much.

As far as when selling a property I thought an inspection requirement was in place already. I'm unsure how I feel about that anyway. I would like to think a quality home inspection would uncover any potential issues. Requiring an inspection to see if a renovation or the like had a permit pulled years prior seems a bit like a money grab to me.

As far as if you haven't done anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about now do you!!! That is just a silly statement in my opinion. Defining what is illegal in this instance is rather vague in my opinion.

They should inspect the house next to me as there are a lot of people living in a single family home!

As it stands now (to my knowledge) only multi family rental units require such inspections, are they changing this to be single family rental units as well with this new ordnance?

I may be over thinking this, but if plumbing, electrical, or anything else for that madder was code complaint when your house was built, are you now going to be required to basically bring your old house up to current code whenever you want to sell or rent? Housing codes change on a almost continual basis....this could be incredibly expensive for people! Like whats the actuality to this ordinance?

The way I am reading it, every time I change tenants I would basically have to rebuild my house to meet current codes? Nobody else sees that as absurd?

This has nothing to do with "doing anything illegal" but instead has everything to do with there being a lot of older homes in town that have always been grandfathered when they are sold or rented.

This is something most towns have already had in place

Yes, a lot of towns (and other states) have something similar. On the one hand, I can agree with some of the logic behind it. Yet, on the other hand, it can be an added nuisance and expense that doesn't necessarily benefit either the buyer or the seller.

For example, some towns actually require that you have 6"-tall house numbers on the front of the house. So, the seller goes out and buys some and installs them, but it turns out the buyer would like them in a different color and installed in a different spot, so he has to waste even more money to replace them.

But there are sometimes worse requirements. Some towns require that every window open and close properly and that every window has a screen. So, maybe my house has very old windows with no screens. I'm willing to give a buyer a good price, because of that, and he plans to buy and replace every window with a nice, fancy, expensive one, as soon as he moves in. Good for him, and good for me--we're both happy, with that. But the town won't allow it. I'll have to waste money fixing all of the damaged windows and buying a new custom screen for every single one of them, and the new homeowners is just going to tear out and toss all of the windows, anyway. And that work might actually end up delaying the sale of the home, which can be inconvenient for everyone involved.

So, if you live in Hackettstown and own (or hope to own) a home, I would highly recommend that you tell the nitwits running it that you oppose such an ordinance. Home buyers are certainly capable of hiring their own home inspectors, if they desire.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 28th

Just another way to generate more money and justify/create a job or two.. Absolutely ridiculous and if I want to sell my house as is they can go F- themselves... More oversight by big brother means more problems for those of us paying the tax bills in this town.. How about they try getting some of these illegals to pay taxes and contribute to our tax base then trying to screw homeowners even more!!!

When I did anything to my home I got all my work inspected. and kept all the records and turned it over to the new owners. Electrical,, Plumbing, add a room and even all the septic cleaning records. There inspector was impressed. Me and the Building inspector were on first name bases.

Are we sure we are talking about the same "code" Jim

I (as well as others) am talking about construction code....electrical, plumbing, building...etc

From the sites you posted that is occupancy code, which is smoke detectors, fire extinguishers...etc with the exception of the cherry hill one, which seems to want your house to look a certain way and has minor inside inspections

When I had those done in the past, it was basically smoke and carbon dioxide detectors...basic safety things............

Speaking of building inspectors,this happened yesterday right across the border.

CRESCO, Pa. (WPVI) -- A township employee was shot and killed inside a Pennsylvania municipal building Tuesday, and a suspect was quickly taken into custody, officials said.

The gunman walked inside the Paradise Township municipal building about 8:20 a.m. and opened fire, according to police and township officials. State and local police rushed to the municipal building in the Pocono Mountains, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Philadelphia, arresting the suspect without incident.

The victim was identified as Michael Tripus, 65, of Stroudsburg. The township's website listed him as the sewage enforcement and building code officer. Police said David Green, 72, of Swiftwater, was taken into custody.

callitlikeIseeit callitlikeIseeit
November 28th

“When I had those done in the past, it was basically smoke and carbon dioxide detectors...basic safety things............”

From how it has been described above it sounds more like providing authority to “catch” people who improve their homes without getting permission to do so, and then of course to increase taxes based on any said improvement...

justintime justintime
November 28th

The tax man cometh....

Dodgebaal Dodgebaal
November 28th

Wow, one of those lists referenced a 3 page checklist. Mansfield checks for fire extinguisher (silly) and smoke + carbon detectors.

It all sounds legally foolish to me. If a town inspector misses something, and there is an incident with injury, lawsuit!

" If a town inspector misses something, and there is an incident with injury, lawsuit!"

Sue govt? Good luck with that LOL.

"Turning America into Europe, one small cut at a time"- Government

"These sound like great new ordinances, don't you agree?" - O'brien, 1984

"These new ordinances are merely for the public good" - President Snow, Hunger Games

I know... a little over top... just looking a little further into the future than most people, LOL. Most people on HL won't live long enough to see it... but your children will.

JeffersonRepub JeffersonRepub
November 29th

Is there a need for this ordinance?

I really don't see any "need" for it. I CAN see a desire for something similar to it. For example, if someone finishes their basement and adds $10K to the value of the home, without telling the Tax Assessor, then it's unfair to the people who did the same thing with proper permitting and ended up having their property taxes raised. An ordinance requiring an inspection for such things would promote fairness and justice, and encourage/force people to obey the construction laws.

I can also see an advantage of doing something similar, regarding rental properties, specifically, for the safety of tenants. However, I don't really see a reason to hold up property sales, because of it. If Man A owns a house with tenants and plans to sell it to Man B, then the town should not hold up the sale just to require that Man A install window screens on the house on January. The town could, however, require an inspection, and require that Man B be repair certain things within 90 days of purchasing the property, if he is going to continue renting it after that point. Alternatively, the town could simply require that the new landlord provide the tenants with a booklet detailing their rights to certain safety features of the property, and give the tenants the right to dispute any violations they find.

I do not, in any way, see any reason to hold up the sale of properties, due to repairs being necessary on the property. At most, the town should tell the potential buyer of the repairs that will be needed and give him/her the opportunity to buy the place "as is," re-negotiate the contract, or back out of the purchase entirely. Buying a home is already ridiculously difficult, and adding new inspections and fees will only exacerbate that arduous process. If you want to purchase a house without window screens, that should be up to you, not to some temporarily elected town councilman.

As others have noted, this really has very little to do with safety--it's just another money grab that would hurt home sellers and buyers alike, and ultimately make Hackettstown a less-desirable place to live, which ultimately hurts everyone living there.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 29th

When we lived in Maplewood and owned a 2 family house, once a year the town would come and inspect the tenant’s apartment. I don’t believe there was fee for this but they knew it was a rental unit. We did have the pleasure of paying a double sewer bill since we had 2 units -including ours- in the house though there were only 3 people living in the whole house. A family of 6 in a one family house only had to pay half of what we did.

" I CAN see a desire for something similar to it. For example, if someone finishes their basement and adds $10K to the value of the home, without telling the Tax Assessor, then it's unfair to the people who did the same thing with proper permitting and ended up having their property taxes raised. An ordinance requiring an inspection for such things would promote fairness and justice, and encourage/force people to obey the construction laws."

JerseyWolf can you please explain to this "nitwit" how your ordinance would work? with your example, if someone finishes their basement without permits how would the town know to go out and do an inspection? Or in your ordinance does the town have the right to go and inspect every single home to see if there are any non- permitted basements?

The ordinances that us "nitwits" wrote only requires inspection at time of selling the house/changing rental tenants to make sure any work done to the house was properly permitted. So in theory if you finished your basement without permits and lived there for years and years the town would not know. But when you go to sell it we will find out and require you to get permits and hopefully all the work you did was up to code. If not then you would have to bring it up to code before you could sell it. Seems logical to this "nitwit"

"The way I am reading it, every time I change tenants I would basically have to rebuild my house to meet current codes? Nobody else sees that as absurd?'

Darrin you can call our construction officer to get a better answer, but how I read it was the CCO is very basic and really meant to make sure any work to the home was permitted and up to code.

Maplewood is crazy... my buddy's parents have a modest-sized Craftsman-style house on about a 1/4 acre lot... $24,000 a year in property taxes.

So you have to earn about 50k just to pay the property taxes in Maplewood, that crazy.

When we sold our house in Independence Twsp last year the realtor came back and said we had 3 outstanding permits on the home. My wife told went down to the Municipal building to inform them that they were all inspected. The lady working there said all the records were in boxes in the basement from when they moved there years ago. Luckily my wife kept all the records and provided them with a copy. Evidently no one closed them out. I am sure we were not the only ones with that issue.

Jim, the idea of inspecting the house at time of sale is not something I entirely disagree with, in theory. My question is, where are you going to draw the line? Let's say my house is 50 years old, and I owned it for 25 years, and it has a finished basement, but the town's records don't indicate a finished basement. And let's say there is no clear evidence that the basement was finished recently. What is the town going to do? Maybe the town's records were simply wrong. Maybe the basement was finished 35 years ago, before I even bought the house--am I to be punished, for that? Maybe the work was done so long ago that no permit was needed, at the time, but since I don't know when it was done, I can't prove it. Maybe it was built to code, at the time, but it doesn't meet current code--am I going to have to tear everything out and re-build it, to fit modern codes? You can't easily inspect inside finished walls, without doing damage, so how are you going to know if wiring or plumbing inside the walls is up to modern code, without causing damage?

The town does not keep records of every single aspect of every single home. So, if a town inspector comes to my home and claims I made some minor alterations without a permit, how is it going to be proven? Is the town simply going to claim absolute authority to punish a homeowner, based on the allegations of one inspector? Are there going to be formal hearings? Is the town going to spend money to hear all of those disputed cases in court?

What if the inspector finds something that does not meet current codes, but has nothing to do with permitting? For example, I don't need a permit, to simply replace a handrail in my home. But what if I did it improperly? Is the town going to require me to fix it, or is that ordinance to apply only to issues that would normally require a building permit?

And, perhaps most importantly--is the town going to use this authority to prevent and/or delay home sales? If I'm under contract to sell my home in a month, and the inspector claims my finished basement is improper and I have to completely re-do it, it will likely take months. Is the town going to refuse to allow me to sell the home?

The real fault with such an ordinance is that the town has no clear baseline, for every home. Perhaps IF the town did some kind of very-thorough town-wide reassessment of all properties, and recorded all of that information, then it could use that as a baseline to compare to, for all future inspections. But until then, all those inspections will require a lot of guesswork. Sure, some things will be very obvious, but others definitely will not. I know this, for a fact, because I helped deal with something similar, in another town in another county, where an inspector claimed alterations were made to a 200+ year-old home, but really couldn't prove when they were done.

So, no--such an ordinance does NOT seem logical. It seems like another bureaucratic mess that is bound to lead to all kinds of problems and headaches and lawsuits, in the future, all for very little potential gain. In sum, it will hurt the people of Hackettstown more than it will help.

By comparison, let's say the town simply created an ordinance that required all potential home buyers be issued a pamphlet, clearly explaining that they may be held responsible for any potential improper alterations made to the home, before they bought it, but they could contact the construction office regarding any questionable work done on the property, before purchasing. And let's say that all renters must also be issued a similar pamphlet, regarding their rights as renters and the quality of work done in their properties. Those pamphlets would cost the town maybe 10 cents each, and ultimately, they would probably do even more good. I'm not saying that is an ideal solution--only a theoretical example. But I AM saying that the proposed ordinance does not sound like a wise choice for Hackettstown, at this time. And I hope that the Town Council will consider it very, very carefully, before implementing it.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 29th

It may be subjective no? For example if I purchased my home with an attached deck completed by the prior owner without a permit on record am I responsible for the permit when I sell? There could also be instances where a homeowner was not required to get a permit for a certain project at the time of completion but at a later date the requirement changed and that same work now needs permits.

I did pick up a copy of the ordinance however it does not have any particulars. Just the standard language looking for the addition to the Land Use Ordinance and a brief overview.

It does state:

"Notice is hereby given that the aforementioned ordinance was introduced at a regular meeting of the Common Council of the town of Hackettstown, NJ held on November 26 2018, and that at a regular meeting of the same to held on December 27, 2018 at the Municipal Building, 215 Stiger Street, Hackettstown, NJ at the hour of 6:30 PM the said Common Council will conduct a public hearing and will consider the final passage of said ordinance."

So I guess if the public wants to have input that is the chance. It may work out as many folks have that week off albeit a rather busy time for most. Unfortunately the last thing on people's mind at that time of year is a council meeting.

Re: Proposed Ordinance 2018-18 In Hackettstown

Here is the Ordinance.

Yes if you bought a home that had work done prior without permits than you are responsible for that when you go to sell. I walked away from 2 homes when I was looking because the owner did work and my inspector say no permits were done. What’s the old saying Buyer beware.

Which council member introduced this bill?

So the real reason isn’t safety then, it really is taxation that’s the issue. Nice! (Not)

Home inspectors in this state *are* licensed, correct? As I alluded to earlier, will the town obsolete home inspections by private companies by taking over their responsibility? If not, why? Very serious question.

Especially when the “WHEREAS” portions of the ordinance justify this action as one of safety.

This sounds A LOT like government overreach in this case. Blatant, pethaps?

justintime justintime
November 29th

Btw, what was the reasoning behind its introduction, what was the motivation?

A recent hazard I hope. If not, more evidence of overreaching?

justintime justintime
November 29th

Maplewood’s taxes are horrible. When we bought our 2 family on the “less desirable” part of town, we paid around $6500 in taxes. They did a reval, after not doing one for around 15-20 years. Our taxes actually went down a little, whereas the house in the nice part of town- big house near the center of town-that was paying the same $6500, went up significantly. Man did people bitch...

That is very unfortunate and frankly outrageous in my opinion. I can almost guarantee and would be very surprised if the construction department had records either way for a home I bought 30 years ago that may have had a deck installed by the prior owner for example. As Jersey Wolf noted I gather hundreds of older homes with decades of the same owners would be in the same boat here in town. For the town to adopt the buyer beware position is as it relates to work completed 10-20 or 40 years ago when home inspections were not driven entirely from a litigious view point as they are today is shameful, short sighted and very much supports a money grab agenda. In my opinion.

A new ordinance should not be retro active and so ridiculously far reaching. It should have an enforcement date beginning at the time of adoption. Anything already done is done. It is the responsibility for a prospective property purchaser to have a thorough home inspection to uncover any potential issues. That would be where the buyer beware concept should come into play. In addition a commercial or rental situation has appropriate inspections already.

What is the current process for accessing all permit records for a particular property? I assume going to the construction office with a lot and block to see what if any records exist?

Yes, Greg, that is the process--go to the Construction Office and ask. It's a good practice, whenever you buy a home, to see what permits were taken out on a property, and when (and to make sure they are all "closed"). It can help you to spot things done without a permit (like, if it has a fairly new furnace, but the last permit for a furnace was from 20 years ago). It can also sometimes tell you exactly what WAS properly done, and when. So, if the seller says the roof is only 5 years old, you can find out that it is actually 8 years old, and set your offer accordingly.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 29th

I’d argue the saying isn’t “buyer beware” as much as it is “avoid overpriced towns with officials hungry for retro permit money that likely has little to do with public safety when a licensed home inspector can already assess structural/code issues”

Thanks Jim,

I will call the construction office, as I want to make sure it is just for new work done, and does not cover everything in the house....for example, lets say my house was built in the 70s and the electrical panel was to code when it was I now have to put a new electrical panel in because those codes have changed, or is this just C.O. stuff and inclusive to if any work was done without permits. If it is in fact the second, I do not have much issues with that, although I do agree with what others are far is the reach here? You could be potentially costing residents a lot of money. How would a home owner know if a bathroom was changed out ten years prior to purchasing their home without a permit?

Last year before the suspended it the cost was $280 then an additional $40 for the smoke cert for single family homes. Commercial was $500...and yes they would make you update things that had been approved prior.

These inspectors are nothing more than glorified tax collectors!! "Give us money and your OK!" I have dealt with a few, and their stupidity was astounding. Especially the towns electrician. Scary.

As far as setting the baseline and knowing whether a basement was finished 5 years ago or 35, wouldn’t that be reflected in the reassessment that was done several years ago? At the time, a lot of people were making the same complaints about how they were not going to let the assessors in. Maybe they should have let them in, so this work won’t be showing up as “new” when they go to sell and it turns into a problem.

Music gal Music gal
November 30th

"As far as setting the baseline and knowing whether a basement was finished 5 years ago or 35, wouldn’t that be reflected in the reassessment that was done several years ago?"

Only if a permit was pulled, or the tax assessor was allowed into the house.
If the basement was finished by the homeowner, without a permit, the town doesn't even know about it.

When we bought our house, *I* paid for a home inspection, but I do not recall the TOWN (Mansfield) sending out an inspector to "make sure everything was up to code"... because everything WASN'T.

And as fas a NJ inspectors being licensed... LOL... well, yeah, technically.... the inspector I hired was licensed, and he went on & on about things like a loose toilet handle, a couple of outlets weren't grounded, one window's seal had broken... nothing on there about the stuff that really matters: soft spots on the roof, the age of the boiler and AC system, ant problem, and NOTHING about serious plumbing or electrical issues... because I don't think he could have identified them.

And how he missed the acrid smell of mice droppings in the kitchen (they had come in through the attic, and were living on top of the cabinets... for YEARS.... when I pulled those cabinets down, GARBAGE BAGS FULL of mice waste)... I'll never know.

But he was "licensed" lol

JeffersonRepub JeffersonRepub
November 30th

1+ JR. Although our home inspection was pretty basic, I wouldn’t say it was thorough. Our roof was “inspected” from the ground. And clearly written in the report was something to the effect that they aren’t responsible for anything that was missed.
Also, township inspectors aren’t infallible either. There are times where work has passed inspection even though it wasn’t done correctly.
Total money grab.

Come on Jim. Less regulation, less intrusion, small government. Where was the public outcry for this? All the ranting and screaming about the QuickCheck relocation, all the anger over the out of control school board spending; and this is what you guys are focusing on? I've never seen this council, or this mayor, to be a group of followers adopting the policies of municipalities that are being crucified for over taxation. If anything you've all worked to delivery for the taxpayer and keep the burden as low as possible. So why the philosophy shift?
Lead by example. Keep the government imposition at a minimum and respect the taxpayer. I don't know of very many people in Hackettstown who moved here to turn it into Maplewood. And those that have quickly learn what the town holds dear and that they might be in the wrong place. Funny thing is, we have the exact same tax rate as Maplewood without ANY of the revenue drivers or property value drivers they have. Residents here will NEVER experience the single-family residential median value of $591,500 Maplewood does.
This regulation is needless. It's a blatant over-reach and no I don't want the town inside my house looking for new ways to take more money from me; be it fees, fines or taxes. If the town struggling to make ends meet, cut services. Or better yet, get control of the frigging school board and the absolutely out of control spending philosophy that exists there (is the council afraid to step forward and take the lead there?). If you aren't struggling to make ends meet, then why are you sticking out your hand?
Residents can't afford new taxes, regardless of how you dress them up.

CollegeViewCrew CollegeViewCrew
November 30th

I feel every property owner in town needs to understand what is at stake here. This could be very costly for folks as well hold up or even negate the sale of a property. Sure some property owners would be "guilty" if you will of having some things done without permits yet many more would be victims of prior owners and or average home inspections at time of purchase. In addition to require current code compliance is unreasonable. I'd be willing to bet inspections of town owned properties would produce "non compliant" issues. As Jersey Wolf stated, construction codes change almost weekly.

I get it- municipalities need to find any and all means to increase revenue sources. This is simply another way. I do not believe for one minute that public health, safety, and welfare is what is driving this ordinance. Of course it is playing a part but a distant second at best. I guarantee a discussion and possibly some forecasted revenue numbers were discussed in detail regarding this proposal. At a minimum examining budget numbers of towns that have already enacted this type of thing must have taken place.

What is difficult to digest here is the timing. The ordinance was introduced November 26th. Council will conduct a public hearing and consider FINAL passage on December 27th.That means December 13th is the only other meeting other than the 27th to understand the full scope of the ordinance, voice questions and or concerns.

This ordinance will directly affect every property owner who sells, leases, or rents a property in Hackettstown. It will cost money for the inspection- which is only valid for 6 months at a time( keep your wallet handy landlords) and could cost an untold amount of money if violations and or non compliant issues are found.

This is a serious, and potentially very expensive issue here folks.

Without having all of the written material regarding the ordinance it is difficult to offer changes. At a minimum the retro active portion should not exist. When the law is passed is the date or baseline if you will. In addition the term of 6 months is a bit short. An inspection should last the term of a tenants tenure. A homeowner could have one inspection at the time of sale and it's valid until the next ownership transfer.

+1 CollegeViewCrew and Greg

JeffersonRepub JeffersonRepub
November 30th

So it sounds like there will be a good amount of memebers of the public at the town council meeting voicing their concerns about this. Good.

I don't have any reason to doubt good intentions, behind the ordinance. In THEORY, it would promote fairness and justice, so that some people wouldn't get away with paying taxes, due to them secretly improving the values of their homes. I think most good citizens would agree with that concept.

However, it seems like limited, short-term thinking. Yes, the town would catch some violators. And that would lead to SOME increased revenue, increased protection/safety for SOME home buyers and tenants, and act as a deterrent to SOME people who would think of making un-permitted home alterations in the future. But what other effects is it likely to have?

-- Increased costs to homeowners and tenants; which leads to the town becoming a less-desirable place to live, for many; which lowers home values and leads to less money for consumers to spend at local businesses; which leads to more foreclosures and closed businesses; which leads to less income for the town; which leads to increased taxes; which causes the cycle to continue its downward spiral.
-- Some residents will suffer significantly, through no real fault of their own, when the town increases their property taxes and makes them spend money to repair their homes, due to alterations made before they even purchased their properties, and of which the residents were not even aware.
-- Lawsuits against the town, which leads to increased costs, which leads to increased taxes, which causes the cycle to continue its downward spiral.

All of that, just to deal with a VERY small percentage of residents who had alterations improperly done to their homes--even if those residents aren't even aware of it.

Simply put: This is America, it's almost 2019, and we should be able to come up with a better way to do things.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 30th

Jim L, you have not answered the one question on who sponsored this ordinance ?


Infiniti2510 Infiniti2510
November 30th

"In addition the term of 6 months is a bit short. An inspection should last the term of a tenants tenure. A homeowner could have one inspection at the time of sale and it's valid until the next ownership transfer"

Greg you are misunderstanding the language, let me try to clarify for you. The inspection is only needed when there is a change of ownership or tenant. So if you get a CCO and sell you home and the next owner lives there for 30 years he doesn't need a new one until he finally sells. Same with a landlord, if he gets a new tenant and that tenant stays there for 10 years he doesn't need to get a new CCO until that tenant finally moves out.

My concern was what about landlord who rent month-to-month and a tenant moves out after 2months, I didn't think it was fair to have the landlord get a brand new CCO so I asked for a timeframe that the CCO was good for. We came up with 6 months, So if a landlord gets a CCO and then the tenant moves out in 2months the landlord doesn't need a new CCO. And if the next tenant moves in and stays for a long time then no CCO is needed until they move out. Hope that helps clarify the "6month"

Thanks Jim- The 6 months makes sense regarding the tenant issue. There is only the one sentence hence my thoughts .A home owner typically lasts longer than that! LOL

" The CCO shall be valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance, after which the certificate will expire."

Question. If a bank takes ownership of a property in a sheriff sale as scores have in town recently, will the bank as owner of record pay the same inspection fee and any potential "penalties" related to non permit issues?

Also, is there room for public discussion and potential to have changes and or amendments made to the proposal? Naturally my thought would be to have any "non permit" issues only relate to the current owner at the time of the passage of this into law. That some seems far more reasonable to me.

In addition what is the language regarding bringing things up to current contruction code standards? It that the entire dwelling or just items found to be completed without permits?

"Also, is there room for public discussion and potential to have changes and or amendments made to the proposal?'

Of course, that is what the public meeting on the 27th is for. Also this has been discussed for months at public Town Council meetings... I think April or May it came up. We have been very open about it and have adjusted the language The Council finally agreed on how the ordinance should be worded and now its ready for public's inputs. Same process how every other ordinance is done

Is there any written material online or hard copy to review other than the notice I have?

"Jim L, you have not answered the one question on who sponsored this ordinance ?"

We have an Ordinance Committee that discusses all potential new ordinances and then brings them to full council. Sorry I am not on that committee so not sure who "sponsored" this particular ordinance

JimL, are you convinced that this ordinance will make homes more safe?

Also, what was the data used to justify the desire for this ordinance? How many injuries, deaths, or even complaints have occurred that prompted this measure?

justintime justintime
November 30th

JIT do you even live in Hackettstown?

Does it matter JimL?

If you know the answer and don’t convey it I’m sure there are other residents curious to know the answer too. No one in government should make decisions just because they want to, there needs to be justification. Surely you can agree with that view?

And if you don’t know the reasoning that’s fine too, just say so. But surely someone knows why this measure is being proposed...

justintime justintime
November 30th

Ordinance committee are as follows: Kunz, DiMaio, Tynan.

"do you even live in Hackettstown"

This ordinance is certainly going to affect those who don't (yet) live in Hackettstown if they are trying to buy a home that gets de-railed because of a decades old improvement that wasn't built on a permit.

Also, it must be fun to be a realtor trying to sell homes while navigating all these ordinances that vary town to town.

Question asked again? How would the ordinance deal with bank foreclosures and sheriff sales? Would they be exempt from the ordinance ?

Does it matter JimL?

yes it matters, because if you don't live in town then this ordinance has zero impact on your life. . I think I've done a good job answering residents questions, I'm not going to waste my time answering nonresidents

Glad I live in Independence. Democratic move by a Republican council....reason not to re-elect and gives new candidates a platform of smaller and less intrusive government.

Sounds a lot like there’s zero data behind the measure and you’re falling back onto a typical politicians response by deflecting.

“I don’t know” is a valid answer...

justintime justintime
November 30th

"Democratic move by a Republican council....reason not to re-elect and gives new candidates a platform of smaller and less intrusive government." - - - Timmy

+1, spot on correct, this is a bad move by Hackettstown, it's a solution in search of a problem. Not sure why the town council chooses to start a war with the taxpayers who elected them. It's a stupid idea they are foisting on the good folks who own properties in town. There is no justifiable reason that legitimizes this draconian over reach.

I looked back in all of the the minutes from this past year. The only mention I see regarding the CCO is from the July 12th and August 12th meetings where a few residents speak. Unfortunately council responses are not recorded in the minutes.

"Mayor DiGiovanni asked if anyone from the public would like to speak at this time.

Bill Lerman, Fiedler Realty, asked about the new CCO license, it being implemented abruptly with no notification to realtors in the area."

"Michael Rossi, Exit Realty, asked when the new CCO license ordinance and fee was first considered by the Town and are CO’s and a CCO now required on the sale of an existing home?

August 9th
Bill Lerman, Hackettstown realtor, spoke about the proposed CCO ordinance, which is under consideration by the Town for adoption.

Debbie Sayer, Exit Realty, spoke concerning her thoughts on the CCO ordinance. "

I can't seem to find anything online folks can review. Am I just missing it, Jim?

For the general public at large to fully understand the complete impact of this particular ordinance and to be able to discuss it properly, intelligently, and thoroughly at the public hearing portion of the meeting on the 27th citizens need to have all of the pertinent information ahead of time I would think. We all know attendance at the council meetings where some passing comments where made according to the official minutes is no substitute for having all of the details prior to the public hearing and adoption meeting.

I should add, I do appreciate your help in coming on here to help clarify things.


It has been discussed numerous times at public meetings WHY this ordinance was introduced.

So JIT I need to answer your question but you don't need to answer mine? I asked you a yes/no question and you deflected. pot meet kettle

"Unfortunately council responses are not recorded in the minutes."

That kind of defeats the purpose of meeting minutes, doesn't it?

Knowing it was discussed at previous meetings is useless info if the discussion at those meetings wasn't recorded (either transcribed or audio/video). Government transparency at its finest...

I would like to see the data the committee used to come up with this proposal.

"Knowing it was discussed at previous meetings is useless info if the discussion at those meetings wasn't recorded (either transcribed or audio/video). Government transparency at its finest..."

Mark you do know that full audio of all meetings is available through a Open Records request, right? You can listen to the full discussion

I don't understand why one man's residency has to be a factor in his general interest, in this matter. Maybe he has relatives or friends who live in town. Maybe he has business interests in the town. Maybe he plans to move to the town (or has relatives or friends who plan to). Maybe he has (or intends to purchase) investment properties in the town. Maybe he's in the real-estate business and wants to know how his business will be affected. Maybe he's an attorney and wants to be well prepared, when clients ask him questions about the matter. Maybe he lives in another town considering a similar measure, and he's just trying to get additional viewpoints. Maybe he's just really, really curious. Maybe he's simply dumbfounded at the idea that a town council seems to be seriously considering doing something that is likely to hurt the town more than help it. . . .

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 30th

JimL, if the question is valid then what’s the issue? You deflected, then just deflected again. And I’m sure you’ll deflect again if anyone re-asked the question.

Btw, after moving recently I had resided in htown for many years, many more years than you I will add, and know a lot of current residents who would be impacted by this ordinance.

And since you’re still brandy-spankin’ new to town, you may not have noticed that htown isn’t predominately wealthy (median household income around $70k), meaning it’s very likely that you will be causing more harm than good by implementing this measure.

Unless, of course, there’s data behind this decision: The number of safety incidents this would address, if the causes of the recent fires in town would have been prevented, that kind of thing. Is that information available?

justintime justintime
November 30th

"yes it matters, because if you don't live in town then this ordinance has zero impact on your life."

I disagree with this statement, as this ordnance has everything to do with people who could be potentially looking to buy property, including investment property in town.

The best I can currently tell, this ordinance will honestly hurt the residents of Hackettstown, I honestly do not see any benefit for the residents, but instead see all $$$ for the town.


Bwahaha! I have had this conversation with the town in the past...for whatever reason they do not seem to want the audio recordings easily accessible

Jim L,

Do you know where I can obtain the data the committee used? Where there any handouts at the Council meetings?

Great way to compare this ordinance to other ultra-lilberal areas that already have them. While your at it, make backpack leaf blowers illegal. Maplewood already does so must be the correct thing to do.

Amazing how the people who march to the small government drum always find ways to increase the size of it.

Concentrate on the roads, the potholes, getting your paperwork done on time and other community life things. Stay out of our homes. Power. It's addicting.

November 30th

JimL, I don’t live in H’town but it could set a precedent for other towns. That would not be a good thing IMO.

What is the problem that this fixes? Whats the issue? Where's the proof of why this needs to be implemented?

From what I was told it was part of reexamining of fees and such this past year. You know, looking to squeeze our gumdrops for more revenue.

Hope not Greg. I assume that’s just heresay, but *if* you are correct then the way the ordinance is written could be considered misleading, if not factually incorrect if there really is no data to quantify the safety aspect that’s claimed to be addressed. Now *that* would be something to be concerned about imo because it speaks directly to the makeup of the council itself, the implication being the use of obfuscation to increase funding.

Personally I’ve always held the town leadership in high regard, and historically they’ve done very well keeping town business running smoothly, so I would have a hard time believing that suddenly changed. No, I’m sure the safety data driving this ordinance is there. Just wish it would be easier to get at...

justintime justintime
November 30th

Huge take away from this thread; we have an ordinance committee that, rather than just examine the existing ordinances and eliminate or update them to fit current local taxpayer needs, are finding new revenue drivers.

There's an easy place to make meaningful change. Let's task the committee with a simpler mission of simply finding ways to eliminate overburdening ordinances, updating outdated wording to modernize existing applicable ordinances and find ways to help lower property taxes and minimize government intrusion. We have a committee whose job it is to find ways to fee us while the council at large finds ways to tax us.

This is wrong-headed. It's not what the council should be doing. Get out of our yards and out of our pockets. You all know better, or at least we thought you did.

CollegeViewCrew CollegeViewCrew
November 30th

More money and more snooping, all under the guise of helping you. Same thing with not allowing Americans to go to Canada for medicine, they are protecting you-as if Canadian pharmacies have more faulty medications than American ones- don't forget the 76 people who died from the New England Compounding Center pharmacy with mold in the medicine.

"Were from the Government, were here to help." Nope, not buying it. BOHICA

Dodgebaal Dodgebaal
November 30th

"From what I was told it was part of reexamining of fees and such this past year. You know, looking to squeeze our gumdrops for more revenue."

Not sure who told you that but no that was no the reason behind this.

Again if you did work on your home and got all necessary permits than there is no issue. The CCO will actually show your buyer everything was done properly. It is also a positive to buyers coming to town knowing they are buying a home that was properly worked on.

Now if you did work on your home without permits than yes this will hold up your sale. But the town is not issuing any fines or violations, they are just requiring you to get the permits now and hopefully you did the work up to code.

There have been numerous safety issues uncovered that this CCO inspection will help resolve. So sorry JIT I don't know how many deaths it will prevent or fires it will stop, but you already knew there was no numerical answer to your asinine question

If anyone would like to discuss this further the next town council meeting is on Dec 13th and the public meeting on this is on the 27th before it goes to vote. But I'm out of this thread, too many personal shots because I'm the only council dumb enough to come on and answer questions. I have 2 meetings left, I'm as lame duck as they come. See everyone on the 13th....

"Again if you did work on your home and got all necessary permits than there is no issue. The CCO will actually show your buyer everything was done properly. It is also a positive to buyers coming to town knowing they are buying a home that was properly worked on.

Now if you did work on your home without permits than yes this will hold up your sale. But the town is not issuing any fines or violations, they are just requiring you to get the permits now and hopefully you did the work up to code."

That being said, the ordinance still needs to be modified so that homeowners are not held accountable for something that was done many years prior to them owning the home.

This ordinance as it stands is to loose and far-reaching. Going forward with a plan is good but reaching into the wayback machine is just not fair to the residents of Hackettstown. The Town better be prepared to prove or disapprove anything they decide needs to be remediated, be it a permit they say wasn't pulled or should have been pulled or proof that when something was done that at that time a permit was even required.

I'm sure the Town (its residents) will also have to shoulder some legal disputes as a result of this.

Walking Girl Walking Girl
November 30th

" but you already knew there was no numerical answer to your asinine question"


JeffersonRepub JeffersonRepub
November 30th

By saying it’s asinine to ask for substance and justification, should I then assume that you believe the council can do what they want without anyone questioning their motives? Ever. Because everything the council does should be justified. Serious question, because the questions I’ve asked are really, really basic and should have been the *first* one’s asked of the ordinance committee by the council.

“There have been numerous safety issues uncovered that this CCO inspection will help resolve.”

Great, that’s more or less what I was asking. Thank you. And those safety issues are......what? How many issues have been documented, and over what time period? What harm has been caused, or possibly prevented, by the issues uncovered? The council must have something they used to justify this. Or is this another case of “Trust me, I’m from the government” lol ;-)

Anyway, the questions aren’t difficult JimL, but if the answers are then you should probably reflect on why that’s the case.

justintime justintime
November 30th

Justintime- I was told by an interested party that this ordinance came about either along with or as a result of the ordinance below. Could be just an opinion or someone connecting the dots- I can't say for sure.

But yes it is hearsay as I was not present at the council meetings nor have I read the approved #2018-09 ordinance. The online town code link to the PDF has not been updated yet.

However passing an ordinance amending various chapters of the town code relating to fees was certainly not to lower them! LOL So one could kind of connect the dots. While it may not be driven by the monetary aspect it most certainly plays a part. In my opinion it was not born out of a public safety and welfare position.

Motion was made (Sheldon) and seconded (Engelau) that ordinance #2018-09 entitled, AN ORDINACE OF THE TOWN OF HACKETTSTWON AMENDING VARIOUS CHAPTERS OF THE CODE OF THE TOWN OF HACKETTSTOW RELATING TO FEES, be introduced and passed on first reading and that public hearing be held thereon and it be considered for final passage at 7:00 PM on May 24, 2018

No answer to the bank foreclosure question?

I think the only way to get accurate information is to attend the upcoming council meeting(s) and ask the members directly on the record.

Otherwise it is speculation and opinion at this point including myself. It appears there is no written material that is readily available at this point in time.

I will visit the construction office next week to see what information they can supply. Since this was actually a requirement and enforced for a period of time earlier this year before it was rescinded, there must be some sort of printed material to refer to I would think.

By the way JimL, I know you’re not responding any longer but if you’re so inclined please compare one of my earlier assertions to your last response:

“From how it has been described above it sounds more like providing authority to “catch” people who improve their homes without getting permission to do so, and then of course to increase taxes based on any said improvement...“

“Now if you did work on your home without permits than yes this will hold up your sale. But the town is not issuing any fines or violations, they are just requiring you to get the permits now and hopefully you did the work up to code.“

But you left out the obvious consequence that I had pointed out: an increase in taxation based on the previously unknown improvements.

So to say it’s not about money isn’t entirely true, is it?

Now read the ordinance being put forth and ask where any of the above is stated? I didn’t see it, which is why I focused on what the actual ordinance does say, which is that the CCO is for safety reasons. If you can’t justify the safety aspect then at least change the ordinance to state its real purpose.

justintime justintime
November 30th

I want to see the data that the committee used to come to this determination. Thank you Greg.

JD- If in fact the bank that foreclosed on a property and is owner of record the property, upon a sale should be inspected as mandated just as all other residential and commercial properties will be. Then any and all issues found to be not be code compliant and such would need to be remedied. That will either drive the price up or allow for some sort of financial concessions between buyer and seller. Unless a CCO won't be issued until work and or fees are satisfied..

However there may be language specifically for that type of situation.

Again, pure conjecture at this point.

“Again, pure conjecture at this point.”

The text of the ordinance clearly states the CCO is to be implemented for safety reasons, thus the questions about what, precisely, will become more safe as a result.

Everything else, yes, conjecture and assumptions.

justintime justintime
November 30th

You are right justintime. I need to think in a less cynical fashion and think health and public safety first on this issue. LOL

JimL: "I don't know how many deaths it will prevent or fires it will stop, but you already knew there was no numerical answer to your asinine question"

Wow, your true colors being exposed now that you are no longer running for office. He had a perfectly valid question that I also want to know the answer to.

And to think that I took the time to write in your name. Maybe you are bitter, but your tone has definitely changed since the election.

“what, precisely, will become more safe as a result.”

The town coffers.

Lol Greg, please - be cynical! The world needs more folks asking questions, not less.

For what it’s worth I think you’re correct. The CCO will provide a legal means of entering the home. Once inside, well, let’s just say that my guess is 5-10% of any action will be safety related. What do you suppose the other 90% of actions will be?

Unless, again, the council can provide the data suggesting which safety issues will be “fixed” through the use of this ordinance, my gut tells me the 90% rules the day :-)

justintime justintime
November 30th

For those who asked about foreclosures. . . .

I have bought a couple of them. Typically, bank-owned foreclosures are sold "as is," and the BUYER is responsible for all necessary certifications and inspections. That means that I had to do things like arrange and pay for a well test, and arrange for smoke and CO detectors to be installed and inspected, before even closing on the homes. In the case of the proposed new ordinance, most likely, the potential buyer would have to pay for the inspection and CCO. If problems were found, the buyer could legally back out of the contract or attempt to renegotiate with the bank.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 30th

What will be the fees for such "inspection"

I feel the 6 month time frame is way too short, this will, if there is a cost, put yet another burden on people who are landlords.

As well this is opening up a huge would the town "prove" that your kitchen was upgraded 10 years ago for instance?

The town is opening themselves up for a bunch of back and forth prove it moments as well as possible legal action all to put some more $$ in their pocket.

Nobody has been able to answer how far the reach will be....for example, will my electrical panel that was installed in the 90s (before I owned the home) that no longer meets code be in question and in need of replacement? Where is the line, because even the people who have read the ordinance don't know the answer, heck the town council member who will be voting on this ordnance doesn't even know the answer. Are we really allowing something to be created that is that grey?

If this was just smoke certification (like a C.O. actually is suppose to be) I would have absolutely no problem, as that actually has to do with safety...checking that proper smoke detectors are installed, checking a legit fire extinguisher is installed, etc.....but it seems like the town is using this as a reason to get eyes in your home and make money because of it.

"It is also a positive to buyers coming to town knowing they are buying a home that was properly worked on. "

Speaking for myself, and fellow realtors I know, I don't see this attracting buyers, I see it killing deals, and potentially forcing sellers to take homes off the market because they can't afford to have work redone.

I agree, Denis. At first, it would just be a fairly minor inconvenience/added expense. But eventually, the horror stories of canceled deals would get out, and realtors would be saying to clients, "It can be problematic, buying a house in Hackettstown; have you considered the surrounding areas?"

That being said, I wonder if it might be possible to design an alternative system, whereby a potential buyer (or even a seller) could have the town "verify" a home, with a voluntary inspection. Either could call the town, pay a fair fee, and have a town inspector examine the house and compare it to the town's records. They could then issue a certificate that, as of the date of that inspection, the house was up to snuff. (Not a CCO--just a certificate verifying it as of that date.) Buyers could feel more confident with their purchase, and sellers could advertise a home as "pre-verified," in order to attract buyers by showing they won't face certain problems later. Landlords could also use it to attract tenants to a nice, safe apartment/home. It might not be an ideal solution--but I like it better than the proposed ordinance; at least it would be voluntary.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 30th

I agree, if I knew this was a ordnance in town, I would be looking to buy else where.

I really like your idea jerseywolf...too bad that doesn't get the inspector in all the homes like the town apparently wants

My point exactly Jersey Wolf. Why should a residential owner be held to any other standard as a bank owned property. Perspective buyers always have the right to a home inspector. Therefore no maintenance item should be an issue with a home purchase. Repairs are negotiated as part of the sales agreement. Just like with buying a foreclosed property. New ordinance is just another way to screw the person who has done the right thing and struggled to pay their mortgage and Hackettstown property taxes and not walk away from there debt. Reward again. Thank you town of Hackettstown. Have lived here all my 53 years of life but am doing everything I can to get out of here as fast as I can now. Current town council is the worst every in my lifetime.

I'd also like to add I don't think it's a secret there are a lot of homes and apartments in town being rented out illegally, and with total disregard of occupancy laws. This is just one added burden to the homeowners who rent their house out legally and by the book. I don't know what can be done about all the illegal renting in town, but I certainly wouldn't think it in the towns long term interest to make it even more difficult for those who play by the rules.

Just out of curiousity - the way this is written if an investor buys a property and the tenants are staying - it seems like you still need a COO. So say I know the unit needs work - I buy it with intent to fix the property as unit(s) become vacant. Does the town now come in and force me to evict everyone because I made an investment? I don’t live there anymore but that seems kinda weird.

Denis, the proposed ordinance specifically targets enforcement of occupancy laws.

That sounds great, except it was also mentioned that the inspections are only planned to be executed at the time of home sale or rental. The first question that comes to mind is that the properties would necessarily be in transition - vacant - at the time of sale or rental. How can occupancy laws be enforced when a property is vacant?

justintime justintime
November 30th

“whereby a potential buyer (or even a seller) could have the town "verify" a home, with a voluntary inspection.”

Maybe it’s naive of me to think, but don’t the majority of home owners hire a private inspector before commuting to a purchase? I know of no one who has forgone an inspection, so I’ve always assume the number of non-inspections would be low.

IOW, most already have this service done. What benefit would be gained by using a town inspector instead?

justintime justintime
November 30th

Someone should start a petition against this, not sure if it would have any effect, but I would venture to say that just about every single home owner once educated about the reality of this ordenace would sign it.

JIT I don't know? I've seen the aftermath of houses that were rented out illegally with large numbers of people living there, and it's not good. Let's not make it harder on the landlords who follow the rules.

JIT, when you hire a typical home inspector, he performs an overall inspection of the home and property. He looks for problems, things in need of repair/replacement, etc. What I was theoretically suggesting would be for someone from the town to simply confirm that the property is in compliance with all laws--that all alterations/repairs were performed with proper permitting. For example, if he found that someone had added a deck or finished a basement or installed a pool, without proper permitting, he would find the property not in compliance, and the owner would have to remediate the issue. However, once the town official "verified" the property as in compliance, then the town could never come back at some later time and say that the home was not in compliance at that time.

I'm not saying it's an ideal solution. I was mostly pointing out that there may be other, better ways to improve the building-compliance issues than the manner proffered in the proposed ordinance. Since it would be strictly voluntary, it wouldn't address every problem, but it would correct some non-compliant homes, without being an undue burden. If the fees were low enough, home buyers might actually appreciate the added protection of the verification, and it might become popular--real estate agents might start recommending it, to all buyers. And thus, the town could get people to VOLUNTARILY do what they want to FORCE people to do.

And Darrin, I agree that this is an issue that concerns everyone in town. I hope that people will spread the word, and that the townfolk will band together to at least discuss the practicality of the proposed ordinance, as well as feasible alternatives. The members of the town council may (or may not?) mean well, but they are neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and the more people who can help them "crowd-source" effective solutions, the better.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
November 30th

“What I was theoretically suggesting would be for someone from the town to simply confirm that the property is in compliance with all laws--that all alterations/repairs were performed with proper permitting.”

But safety was the driving issue as written in the ordinance. Surely a home inspector would find any safety issue. I can’t see any building issue they wouldn’t find.

What your really getting at, I think, is a govt inspection to verify that proper government permission was given for the work in the home that was done, regardless whether it was done safely or not.

Those are two distinctly different things and should be recognized as such imo. The latter one is simply a control issue and not a safety issue, and thus the ordinance should be rewritten to be accurate.

justintime justintime
November 30th

JIT, here's a good example of the difference between what a typical home inspector does and what building code officials do.

You're thinking of buying a home. It has a large, beautiful, wood deck on the back, and you and your family are looking forward to all the great summer cookouts you'll enjoy on it. You hire a home inspector. He looks at the deck and the way it is constructed, and it appears to meet the building standards and be in good condition.

However, what the inspector would not know, from a typical inspection, is that the deck was constructed without a building permit or inspections. The deck is stained a lovely dark brown, and he doesn't notice that some of the main support joists are not made from pressure-treated wood, so they are more likely to rot long before the rest of the deck. The main support posts are resting on concrete, but he does not know that the concrete is only six inches deep, rather than the required three feet; eventually, the posts will either start sinking into the ground, or frost will push them up, making the deck crooked and weakening its structural integrity. He doesn't know that one of the posts was placed directly over the main water line to the house, which could ultimately cause additional problems, if the line breaks underground. Also, he sees the deck is bolted to the house, but he doesn't know the bolts are way too short, and the whole deck may, one day, rip right off the back of the house.

As I understand the proposed ordinance, in theory, if the home was inspected by the town, the town inspector would check the permit records and determine that the deck was not constructed without proper permitting and inspections. The homeowner would be charged permit and inspection fees, and a very thorough inspection of the deck would be performed, which would find the inadequacies and errors. The homeowner would then have to either fix all of the inadequacies or remove the entire deck, before the town would allow the home to be sold. (And, most likely, the property taxes would go up, because the added deck would add value to the home.)

And so, the proposed ordinance is one of enforced compliance, but it would (at least in some cases) also be a matter of safety. In the above scenario, the improper deck could end up killing you and your family, if it collapses, but a town inspection would hopefully prevent that, while a typical home inspection would not.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 1st

Common practice in current Real Estate transactions is to pull file on the subject property to ascertain what improvements have been made and when they were undertaken via the open records act. (OPRA)
Having stated that, nothing is foolproof.
Sellers that have undertaken unpermitted improvements are usually busted.
Major non permitted improvements ( deck, finished bsmt., garage into room, powder rm. into full bath) SHOULD be uncovered during Twp tax reassessment.
These are usually conducted every 10 years.
Personally, I believe that Hackettstown’s new requirements for a C/O are nothing more than a money grab.
Between the increased cost involved in this inspection and the NJ Real Estate Transfer Tax , NJ has raised screwing its residents to a new level.
But that’s just my opinion.

We will have to agree to disagree JW, at least a bit.

I have two personal experiences involving town inspectors that refute the point they are any better than a private inspector, and funny enough one involves a deck.

In that case, a previous owner had a permitted deck installed but upon purchase my home inspector pointed out that there were too few bolts to the foundation. He dragged my butt under the deck to show me and after the purchase I added the needed bolts myself. This was a permitted and approved deck.

The other example is a bit more dangerous. My father, the overall handy man type, gutted a home and did extensive rebuilding work himself. Because he’s not licensed, the building inspector went through the open-wall inspection with a fine tooth comb and passed his work with no issues. The electrical inspector likewise went through a detailed inspection, but he failed the work for two reasons: 1) my dad isn’t a licensed electrician and 2) the outlets were installed a 1” too high from the floor. Mind you the subfloor was there but not the 3/4” finished hardwood, so this was nitpicking at its finest. Anyway, my dad was forced to hire a licensed electrical contractor who then, on the direction of the town electrical inspector, tears out every inch of wiring and all the boxes and starts from scratch. Needless to say my dad was pissed, for very good reason imo.

So once the work is redone the inspector comes in, sees the contractors license and rubber stamps the job. Sheetrock goes up, everything moves along and then the power is turned on. Dead short wired in the kitchen, popping the breaker, and the basement lights were wired IN SERIES! If your not familiar with the term, it means the voltage dropped at each fixture causing all the bulbs in the circuit to operate at a fraction of the 120v supply. This is something that should never happen, like ever, because it’s literally wiring 101. I know all of this because my dad fired the contractor and I personally found the problems and fixed the wiring for him.

So I harbor no illusion that a town inspector would be any better than a private one. I do concede some of your points, like that footings are difficult to inspect later, but town inspectors are not gods, just like a license doesn’t mean your infallible. And if they want to be $#%@* the can and will.

justintime justintime
December 1st

Why the town chooses to prey upon its own residents is a mystery to me,

stymie said "NJ has raised screwing its residents to a new level."

Agreed! So why would Hackettstown want to add to the burden? This is a stupid move that will do more harm than good. It will lower home values here across the board. Not smart driving people away like this.

GreyHawk GreyHawk
December 1st

Interestingly this thread on Hackettstown Community Forum FB page seems to have gotten quite difficult to find unless you purposely search for it. I used the word ordinance. Hope it wasn’t intentionally buried.

Walking Girl Walking Girl
December 1st

Having concern for public safety comes with a hell of an "added bonus".

Think about the monetary portion of this ordinance. Again, EVERY single property owner in town will at some point be affected by this.

When this CCO requirement was implemented earlier in the year it was $280 for a residential inspection and $550 for a commercial unit. Lets assume there are at least 2500 rental units in Hackettstown. There could be more I'm not sure.Think about all of the buildings on Main Street, the various apartment complexes as well as the scores of multi family homes. Heck, the Paftinos may have 1500 unit alone. In any event using 2500 units lets say 10% turn over each year. That is 250 units at $550 each CCO inspection. That is $137,500. In addition If there are only 24 homes sold in a year, just two a month average, that's $6720. Add in any permit fees that are discovered to be owed and lets drop another few thousand in the hopper. Not bad.

Also if you think for one minute that a landlord will not pass that expense on somehow to the tenants well, you are nuts! LOL.

And we are sure this new requirement is driven entirely "to protect public health, safety, and welfare"?

I would think for the safety and welfare aspect why not enforce the new CCO requirement and charge $35 or something nominal. Any un-permitted work would be noted and if a safety issue exists have it corrected. A homeowner who did not pull a permit pays the permit fee. If the work was from a prior homeowner there should be no fee just recorded with a permit for the record. No permit fee attached. Clearly not the same economic impact but that's not the intent of this ordinance right?

However the requirement was rescinded. I gather the fee schedule will be available and perhaps the numbers have or will change. I'm still trying to get some information on that portion.

Disclaimer: I don't want to spread misinformation so I must state that the fee numbers I mention came directly from the town website..

The rest is my opinion of course.

As a professional skeptic ;-), there one additional thing that tends to bother me.

All towns have a controlling body and monetary needs to support the work done. At what point does a town hit a point of “diminishing returns”, when all town services are in place and running smoothly and subsequent actions have no to little return? And if a town has been run so well that they’re in a good position, is there ever a time when they have to go looking under rocks to find something to do, something to justify their own existence? Things that make you go hmmmmm.

justintime justintime
December 1st

“When this CCO requirement was implemented earlier in the year it was $280 for a residential inspection”

So eliminating private inspections would be an intended or unintended consequence? Said another way, why would anyone hire a private home inspector if you have to pay the town to do the same job?

And seriously, why would the town have your best interest in mind when the focus seems to be about money even though the ordinance says its about safety (with no data provided as to how much safer we would really be)? Given my example above, what would prevent the town from requiring you to destroy perfectly good work if they do chose? Absolutely nothing that I can see.

This CCO thing is gets crazier by the moment lol

justintime justintime
December 1st

I should say justintime!

As an aside from what I heard from an industry professional. those CCO fees Hackettstown first initiated were far above what other towns in the area charge. I believe the forthcoming fees may be less. I am hopeful that information is contained in the 2018-09 ordinance that was passed in May. I'll attempt to get a copy next week.

Justintime: I agree with "I have two personal experiences involving town inspectors that refute the point they are any better than a private inspector".

When we had our addition built (permit over $600), the inspector that came to inspect the forms didn't even bother to turn his car engine off during inspection. The inspection was less than a minute long. Same thing when he came back to inspect framing. The plumbing inspector never showed up, yet we passed that inspection. When the final inspector came for coo, I told him that the plumber inspector never showed up and his repsonse was "that's my brother, he would never have passed something if he wasn't here and anyway, I am certified to inspect all aspects of the job". My contractor told me at the time, some inspectors know the quality of work that contractors do and pass the work without witnessing. It was a real eye opening experience. I am thankful that my husband inspected every aspect of our addition and was comfortable with the work done.

JIT, I, too, have had some horrible experiences with town construction officials, in various towns. One electrical inspector failed my work, claiming he was wrong, and I had to prove him right by citing the exact section of the code. A plumbing inspector came in to do the rough inspection on a completely remodeled bathroom, with all new plumbing--he spent, literally, less than ten seconds in the bathroom. And I have plenty more.

I'm not saying that a town inspector would be better than a private one, or that the town inspector would necessarily catch everything. But I've never seen a private inspector check permits--at best, they advised the home buyer to check with the town, regarding all permits. I have also never seen a private home inspector dig down next to each deck footing, to confirm each one is a proper concrete footing. But I HAVE been there for rough inspections, where a town inspector actually measured the depths of each footing hole, to ensure they were sufficiently deep.

In my theoretical proposal, above, the big advantage to a town verification, at time of sale, is that the town could not legally come back, years later, and tell the new homeowner that he has to tear out the finished basement that was there when he bought the home. It would be a government official verifying that, as of this date and time, the home is up to code, with all permitting and inspections completed, and the property value adjusted to reflect any modifications to the home. No private inspector has the authority to do that.

However, the town inspector would not do things like make sure the dishwasher is working, or test for radon, or look for minor traces of mold in the basement. These are things a private inspector would/should look at.

Obviously, the way things were proposed, it's all about money. (Isn't is always?) There are definitely some safety issues involved, and ultimately, implementing the ordinance might save some lives. But then, charging more taxes and parking a manned fire truck on every street, 24/7, is likely to save some lives, too. It all comes down to what is best for the town (and what the town's residents want), both in the short term and the long term.

This ordinance looks like typical short-term thinking. The town needs money, and the residents don't want to pay more taxes, so the town looks to other ways to generate revenue. So, they come up with "mandatory home inspections." And it does bring in some more revenue, in the short term. But I fear the long-term detriments are likely to significantly offset any short-term benefits.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 1st

If the town is basically going to certify, through inspections, that the dwelling is “safe” and then something happens as a deck collapsing or some other calamity, what is their responsibility in providing the faulty certification.

They say it is for safety, but I am assuming that they will have no legal responsibility in actually certifying that it is fact safe or be on the hook for negligence if in fact something goes wrong.

There is no way that an inspector would be measuring depths of footings or length of bolts during said inspections. It would be time prohibitive at the least.

If no responsibility is taken by the town in their effective safety certification and they aren’t physically inspecting depth of footings or length of deck bolts then this brings us back to money grab.

December 1st

"The town needs money, and the residents don't want to pay more taxes, so the town looks to other ways to generate revenue."

When you rack up debt for years and don't hold people's feet to the fire, this is what you get. Grandfathering is the problem, and not balancing the budget every year, while giving away generous benefits without budgeting carefully for. 80 billion is owed to retirees alone in NJ, not including what you are paying now, and those that owed that 80 billion are in their new homes in the Carolina's and Florida, some remaining here. They never paid their bill in full each month, they left a balance. Now here we are.

Dodgebaal Dodgebaal
December 1st

Unfortunately, it was primarily the state government that ran up the debts, and the towns are forced to try to stay afloat. Even in the matter of compensation to local-government employees, the state government's poor planning had a direct effect. The people were warned, and they didn't care, and now the devil has come to collect his due.

Although I disagree with this proposed ordinance, I can sympathize with the town officials trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. I just hope they can ultimately find a better way to plug the leaks.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 1st


dodgebaal dodgebaal
December 1st

“However, the town inspector would not do things like make sure the dishwasher is working, or test for radon, or look for minor traces of mold in the basement.”

With the exception being the dishwasher, the other items you mention most definitely should be checked based on how the ordinance is written:

“WHEREAS The town believes that the inspection of real property within the town WILL PREVENT HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS and ensure compliance with occupancy limitations”

Mold most certainly is a hazardous condition - look to the work done in the schools recently for confirmation - as is radon because it’s on the toxic substance list of the CDC

If the town keeps the wording in the ordinance but excludes radon and/or mold testing then wouldn’t they be setting themselves up for some liability? The phrase “will prevent hazardous conditions” is pretty clear to me and I assume to lawyers as well.

justintime justintime
December 1st

It says it would prevent hazardous conditions. It doesn't say it would prevent ALL hazardous conditions.

I don't know exactly what the town would look for, and how; I'm guessing part of that is yet to be determined. But based on the fact that it's clearly primarily about money, I would guess that the town inspector would focus mostly on code violations, not on things like whether the tub will need to be re-caulked, soon.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 1st

My nephew was a home inspector in Conn . They have no liability as far as I know. The Washington Twp.NJ measured all my deck holes and the bolts used,.I had the deck pitched for a reason. He said No No.

Old Gent Old Gent
December 1st

This is from the construction department regarding the CCO: There seems to be a fair amount of ambiguous language it appears.

Again a disclaimer- Not wanting to spread misinformation.... While the following information is from the construction department I can't say for certain it is the exact language from the ordinance.

The inspection covers the following, and may uncover other issues not listed:

The closing out of old permits.

A visual inspection to make sure there are no health and safety issues.

A visual inspection to make sure no work has been completed without permits, such as heating systems, electrical panels, finishing of basements or attic spaces, etc.

Determine if any changes to building layout was made without permits; etc.

Regarding a business moving out, and a new business moving in, including a mixed use building, the inspection will also cover the entire building - the business and apartments.

I have also found out that if upgrades have been discovered and triggers a new tax assessment, the assessment moving forward will be in place however nothing retroactively will be collected. I agree with that portion as it is only fair to be assessed for the improvement.

JW, “will” in legalease is pretty strong as far as I know, as close to “must” as you can get I think. Will and would are complete different in meaning.

Greg, thanks for reaching out. At least we know, from the inspection perspective, that safety is a minor concern as most of that list is about permitting and fees (aka did you get permission to improve your home rather than was it done safely). Too bad that’s not what the ordinance says.
Appreciate the follow through.

justintime justintime
December 1st


Seems like what I thought, but could not get an answer on how extreme, from the sound of it the construction office even told you "and may uncover other issues not listed"

Given that they do not use this to grow off of, it is not too bad. Keeping it strictly permit based helps, but it is still opening the door to a bunch of back and forth anyways. But with that being said, I though all of what you listed already had to be done whenever you sell a home?

I also think the 6 month time period between inspections for month to month rentals is too short, that should be ~2 years, as that is not fair to the landlords in town.

There are a lot of great points against this ordinance.

I don't need my town to send someone into my house and then have them tell me that I owe money for something that I had no control over before I bought the house or because a code was updated after I bought it.

This has the beginnings of BIG BROTHER. IMO

Let's strip back the ordinance and get to why this ordinance was even drafted.

December 5th

Morph: They haven't articulated why. They just throw criticism at those who ask why. There is no compelling need for this poorly worded ordinance.

It truly is big brother coming into your home to control your life. It is not needed. It is a solution in search of a problem. It fixes nothing.

GreyHawk GreyHawk
December 5th

If it is poorly written, it was probably done by a lawyer, lol.

It's probably very vague because, if you actually seriously analyze it enough to word it properly, you'll realize that it's a terribly flawed concept.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 5th

When is the next council meeting that this issue will be discussed?

Kurt, looks like December 27th

I’m hopeful that the safety aspect can be questioned, what safety issues are driving this ordinance.

justintime justintime
December 12th

“My nephew was a home inspector in Conn . They have no liability as far as I know.”

Missed this earlier. Yes, that’s true and in fact I recall that my previous home inspection agreements specifically stated this on the paperwork.

But, as the ordinance is written above, the town is stating that it *will* prevent hazardous conditions. Unlike a home inspectors document where they clearly state that they may miss something and bare no liability, the town has written a legal document that has no such escape clause. In fact, the way it’s written seems to imply the exact opposite. Since the ordinance must stand up to legal scrutiny, as alluded to above, the legal use of the term “WILL” is very strong, implying that the town will do just as it states:

“WHEREAS The town believes that the inspection of real property within the town WILL PREVENT HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS and ensure compliance with occupancy limitations”

The way it’s written, it’s seems clear that the CCO process WILL PREVENT HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS, and if it doesn’t the town takes on the corresponding liability of not doing what it clearly said it would do.

justintime justintime
December 12th


Very good observation on the liability aspect of the ordinance. A point that should be brought up at the meeting.

Kurt, there is a council meeting tonight. One can ask about this proposed ordinance in the beginning of the meeting at the public discussion portion. I feel waiting until the next meeting when it is on the agenda officially, is a little too late. I feel having a public hearing and then moments later a possible vote to adopt seems a bit hasty in my book. If there are genuine concerns and issues raised at the public hearing portion I would gather a vote must be postponed but who knows. I would gather 99% of folks who will be affected by this don't even know the content of the proposed ordinance or the fact that it's even being considered to be implemented.
I state again, this proposed ordinance will absolutely affect every property owner in this town at one time or another. Most certainly in a financial manner as well as in other ways. It's important for people to ask questions and understand the ramifications this type of ordinance both good and bad will create.
I may not be back from my job site in time to attend this evening but I am hopeful others are in attendance. After speaking with a few different realtors in the area recently I can state this proposed ordinance is not being welcomed with open arms by many industry professionals. I am certain landlords are not particularly pleased.

Agreed Greg, they are rushing it through in the dead of night in the middle of the holiday season hoping that the good folks they are raking over the coals won't notice how their elected leaders are screwing them

Wake up Hackettstown!

The scrooge who stole Christmas is going to stick it to you this holiday season. Don't let them get away with this.

It's wrong and they know it, but they will screw you, the tax-paying public anyways and not care that they are doing it. Because they can get away with it

Don't let it happen!

The notion that the town is trying to sneak this in at the end of the year is just ridiculous. The town thought we handled this in the spring. We thought we could add the CCO requirement in a fees ordinance so we introduced

" #2018-09 entitled, AN ORDINACE OF THE TOWN OF HACKETTSTWON AMENDING VARIOUS CHAPTERS OF THE CODE OF THE TOWN OF HACKETTSTOW RELATING TO FEES" At the April 26th meeting and gave public notice. Then we held the public meeting on this ordinance at the May 24th meeting. The ordinance passed. and CCO's went into effect.

Afterward it was brought to our attention that we had to create a completely separate ordinance for the CCO and another separate ordinance for the fee of the CCO so we suspended the CCO requirement.

We had a few realtors come speak at council meetings. none of them had a issue with the concept of a CCO, their concern was the cost. So we took their feedback into consideration and lowered the fee.

We then Introduced ordinance # 2018-16
AN ORDINANCE OF THE TOWN OF HACKETTSTOWN AMENDING THE FEE FOR OBTAINING A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY at the October 11th public meeting, gave public notice and held a public meeting at the November 8th meeting.

Then we introduced ordinance, 2018-18, to establish a Certificate of Continuing Occupancy at the November 26th meeting with public notice given and a public meeting to be held on December 27th.

So you will see we already had 2 public meetings regarding CCO's and there will be a 3rd on December 27th. CCO's were also discussed at 3 meetings where the ordinances regarding CCOs were introduced. And if you include the July 12th meeting and the August 9th meetings were members of the public (realtors) came to speak about the CCOs, there were at least 7 meetings CCOs were discussed. Hardly trying to sneak anything in.

Have a Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing those with concerns at the December 27th meeting.

Can you go back to being darwin after New Year's? I miss that guy... (-;

haha deal!!!

Shoot! Missed the meeting last night and just saw there was going to be opportunity to discuss in open comment.

What happened? What is the process/time frame going forward?

Nothing happened. The public meeting on the ordinance is on Dec 27th. If anyone wanted they could have came last night to discuss it but no one from the public came to talk about it. I guess they are all waiting to come on the 27th.

The lack of apathy is pretty embedded in our society. Not just in this case but across the board, which is why decision makers do pretty much what they want...

justintime justintime
December 14th

For the public at this point To fully understand the proposed CCO ordinance it needs to be reviewed. The only way to review it is to make an OPRA request for the document.

Hopefully I will have it early next week.

As an aside, the minutes of the October or November meetings are not posted yet online. No way other than another OPRA request to know what was discussed at those meetings.

"The lack of apathy is pretty embedded in our society."

Huh? If there's one thing our society is NOT lacking in, it's apathy, lol...

Lol ianimal. Early onset senility might be a problem too

justintime justintime
December 14th

There's something wrong, when the public even needs to attend public meetings to discuss subjects like the proposed ordinance. The ordinance is simply wrong, in so many ways (as many people have already pointed out, here), and it should never have been proposed in the first place. It should never even come to a vote. Any members of the Town Council even seriously considering supporting the ordinance shouldn't be in office in the first place.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 14th

Re: Proposed Ordinance 2018-18 In Hackettstown

Please be advised that the council meeting is scheduled for December 27th at 6:30pm at the Municipal Building

Walking Girl Walking Girl
December 14th

This is why most municipalities are in the situation that they are in. Majority of people do not participate in mid term municipal elections when in fact, the local election probably affects your daily life more so than the presidential or national elections.

Local officials know this and this apathy gets people onto the board who normally wouldnt if there was participation. Clerical issues and deadlines end of weeding out the group more than the polls.

This apathy is part of the local machine, and unfortunately lack of participation is also fueled by busy lives, work schedules and the municipality's ineffective and archaic way of communicating with the public for notifications.

They feel like they do what they want. They forget they work for us and unfortunately we allow it by not exercising our rights.

December 15th

Greg --- Where and how do you apply for an OPRA?

happiest girl
December 15th

My question is how will this affect as-is home sales, same for bank sold homes? Banks are not going to pay to fix up homes before they sell them, and homes in need of work are what are affordable to some people. I was one of those people, I bought my home as-is because that is what I could afford at the time. Seems to me that this is going to create more vacant homes as well.

Also, it seems pretty strange the town makes you pay for an inspection to see if you owe the town more the town really that in need of money that they need to double dip on their residents? I understand that the price was changed to $150 (still too high in my book) but who the heck came up with the original idea of $500? That was outrageous!

Just more ordinances we don't need to drive residents out of town. and a perfect case of the actions of a few affecting all. Why not just keep this inspection to multi family rental units? Come-on....we all know what the real issue is here, lets not beat around the bush and try to drag everyone into this.

happiestgirl, you do not necessarily have to fill out the form they have at the office, there is a legal way to type just a email request to the construction office that meets OPRA standards, I have done it a handful of times requesting the tapes from certain meetings.

for example:

Subject: This is an Open Public Records Access Request


Dear Mrs. Zotti or Current Records Administrator,

This is an OPRA request.

I request an electronic copy of the audio recording of the Planning Board meeting conducted 6/25/13.

Please reply to this email when an audio CD can be made available.

Thank you,

Then the town legally has 7 business days (which in the past it typically takes them) to fulfill your request

"Is the town really that in need of money that they need to double dip on their residents? "

If you have to ask???

dodgebaal dodgebaal
December 16th

" . . . who the heck came up with the original idea of $500? That was outrageous! Just more ordinances we don't need to drive residents out of town" - - - Darrin

+1 Darrin, this is true, and will not only drive resident out of town, but will prevent new residents from moving in. This is counter-productive.

But as we have seen with the new quickcheck project, the town council could care less about what the folks in town think,

I believe the "first pass" of the ordinance had the fees set at $280 for residential and $550 for commercial units.That information is on the town website under the construction department. A PDF at the bottom of that page has a memo stating such. Very high and not even in line with other towns in the area that have imposed a similar law. I understand it is a lower number now. Hopefully we will learn what that number is prior to the adoption of this. Or we could just let it be passed and read the details later....

Happiest- It was simple, fill out the request form found on the town website and drop off at the municipal office and the requested documents will be emailed in a few days.

Darrin- It is good to know there is an acceptable format that can be done though email.

Well stated Greyhawk- This proposed ordinance will at some point impact every single property owner in this town. No question about it.

The envelope is on the counter.....

dodgebaal dodgebaal
December 16th

Yes Greg, it's way easier then going there and filling out the form, then you only have to go there once to pick up your request.

Wonder if renters realize that the fee is going to be passed off onto them as increased rent?

Pay the town watch dog to come into your home and tell you if you have to pay any more money....this is beyond ridiculous. I mean I get the reason behind it, but the town is going about it all wrong.

The town could accomplish this by mandatory rental inspections for multi family homes (believe they already have something similar) along with fines for abusers.

Do you really think a landlord X who is stacking his house with you know who is going to pay the town to come in to the house and leave all the beds in the basement and attic when the planned inspector comes???? DUH!!!!

This does absolutely nothing and it is just another fee for people to have to pay, with a very simple way around "getting caught"

One or two good ICE raids, and this whole problem would be solved. . . .

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 16th

This will be challenged in court. It’s like when they tried to force everyone to put in sidewalks that lived in town. It’s egregious.

I would, at the very least, like to know whether the ordinance has been carefully reviewed by attorneys, for possible litigation issues, and whether other towns with similar ordinances have been contacted and what problems/benefits they have experienced.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 16th

Exactly JerseyWolf. It’s like home owners of Hackettstown are getting railroaded.. I would like to see the data these people used.

It reminds me a lot of the Affordable Care Act. There was a problem, and some people came up with a solution which--on the face of it--would solve that problem. And so they went for it, even though many could plainly see that it would have serious problems, in the long term. But nobody really took the time and made the effort to figure out what the real benefits and consequences would be, ahead of time; they just left a mess that somebody will have to clean up, in the future.

But the ACA got passed, because too many people were sold on the dream and supported it. I can only hope that the smart people of Hackettstown will rail against this ordinance, until a good, practical solution can be developed, instead.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 16th

+1000 JerseyWolf

"This will be challenged in court"

Sorry but CCO requirements already exist in many NJ towns so they are completely legal. Some of you are acting like Hackettstown just made CCOs up. A 10min Google Search i could easily find a whole bunch of towns in NJ that already require CCOs.

Absecon, Belleville, Bloomfield, Bound Brook, Chatham, Cherry Hill, Cranford, Demarest, Edgewater, East Orange, East Brunswick, Englewood, Eglewood Cliffs, Franklin Lakes, Freehold, Fort Lee, Hammonton, Haddon Heights, Harrison, Howell, Holmdel, Hackensack, Highland Park, Lakehurst, Lebanon, Lyndhurst, Manalapan, Maplewood, Medford, Marlboro, Midland Park, Mendham, Manville, Middlesex, Montvale, North Brunswick, Oakland, Oradell, Orange, Paramus, Pompton Lakes, Piscataway, South River, South, Orange, South Hackensack, Teaneck, Tinton Falls, Wayne, West Orange, Wyckoff. This is not the full list, i just stopped at 50 towns.

you really don't need a Open Public Records Access Request to view this ordinance. The town follows the proper procedure with this and all ordinances.

The ordinance and its Legal notice was posted in the Daily Record as well as post in the lobby of the Municipal buildings as well as available to anyone asking for a copy of it. You don't need a formal request, just go to the office and they will make a copy of it for you.

But Greg already posted a copy of the Ordinance here so i'm not sure why he is saying the only way to view it is to make OPRA to see it. Greg what you posted it the ordinance, nothing more, nothing less.

There is no additional text available at all? That can't be possible. When at the municipal building the other day I was given that copy again (2018-18).The same one I picked up a few weeks ago. When I asked for any additional information regarding the CCO I was told to I fill out an OPRA request.for the 2018-16 ordinance.

What I as well as I would hope others want to review is what exactly is the entire public policy detailing in writing what a CCO will consist of here in Hackettstown. There must be a document somewhere that specifies fees, time frames, what is to be inspected.,by whom, what waivers are in place, what is the mechanism for re inspection etc etc etc. This must be memorialized in detail somewhere as A CCO requirement was implemented albeit prematurely back in the spring. I mean it wasn't just done off the cuff right?.

Over the past few weeks I have reviewed many of the CCO's on the books for several of the towns listed above. The CCO information typically has the details of the requirements, fees, etc etc. While some towns had a bit more detail than others the basic framework is able to be read and understood. Again, I am looking for something that fully details the CCO requirement. How else can a public hearing be productive without the key information be made available prior to a hearing to read and formulate questions and or concerns?

I agree, Greg--the people need to know the possible ramifications of what they are backing or opposing. In addition, as you and Jim both pointed out, other towns have already implemented similar inspections. Therefore, it should be possible to get some real, statistical feedback regarding how such inspections would affect Hackettstown. What percentage of inspections have revealed problems? Have the revenues of those towns increased or decreased? How many official complaints and/or legal actions have the towns faced, because of the ordinances and inspections? How have home sales and property values in those towns been affected? Has it increased the cost of rental units? Have the towns seen an increase in the number of foreclosures and/or delays in selling foreclosed properties? Has it affected how real estate brokers market or promote home sales and purchases in those towns? How do those towns compare with Hackettstown, which has the highest property taxes in Warren County relative to income, and which has suffered a significant drop in home values over the years?

So far, all I have really heard is a version of that age-old dictator's line: "Trust us--it's for your own good." But if it's really to my benefit, than it shouldn't be hard to convince me.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 16th

It’s not meant to be for your benefit JW. I guess the argument is that this is good for the town, but not for you personally.

Im still curious as to why anyone should pay for their own inspection once this is in place? And of course still curious as to how the ordinance, as written, encompasses all of what JimL claims it does.

I suppose if the local government says they are acting to ensure our safety that they don’t have to define what that really means...

justintime justintime
December 16th

Greg what you are asking for is the CCO application. Not the ordinance. The ordinance just states a CCO is now required. The Application will state what is cover in the CCO. The construction office would have the application.

Shouldn't the Ordinance, as approved by the elected Town Council, fully and clearly delineate all of the particulars of the Ordinance, including the necessary and required contents of the Application? Or is the Town Council now simply ceding all authority to the Construction Office?

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 16th

“Sorry but CCO requirements already exist in many NJ towns so they are completely legal. Some of you are acting like Hackettstown just made CCOs up. A 10min Google Search i could easily find a whole bunch of towns in NJ that already require CCOs.”

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

justintime justintime
December 16th

"I walked away from 2 homes when I was looking because the owner did work and my inspector say no permits were done." Man, if an inspector could tell that on our 200-year old houses, I would be impressed. Abe Lincoln could of worked on these places :>) And why would I care. I care whether the place is up to code, not whether paperwork and inspections were done. Bought many a house in my life and never yet asked for past work permit history. Why, what value in that? Might just be my bad luck, but I have yet to see any consistency amongst any of these inspectors. And some of the reports are just comic.

I understand needing a house to be at code level for rental, lease, sale, and beyond the cost (do we have one yet?), the time, and the red tape, safe is safe and that's a good thing. Especially for renters where, especially in older houses/buildings, things might be a little hinky --- safety wise. But trying to affirm whether improvements, renovations, had permits at time of install ---- impossible on many places in town. Heck, you would to take my house apart to figure out how some of it is put together. And I am not showing you my hidden secure room.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
December 16th

We are talking NJ here. The land of overzealous municipalities. The land of banned back pack blowers, laws preventing homeowners from cutting a single tree without government approval and laws that prevent people from out of town from driving on certain local roads.

As if a comparison showing other towns have done this makes it right for us. I would make the argument that this needs to be closely looked at if most towns have done it. Government has screwed so many things up in NJ that your list of towns makes a case against it.

Who cares what other towns have done? Are there any examples of why Hackettstown needs this? Would like to know the exact issue that this is attempting to address in our town.

Btw, I though you left this thread?

December 17th

Got it. Thanks, Jim.

SO correct me if I am wrong. The public hearing is simply part of the requirement to have the ordinance passed. Will any public remarks and or concerns relating to the sum and substance of the existing requirements detailed in the application be taken into consideration in order to change and or modify the existing requirements? Or has the horse left the stable if you will?

“Would like to know the exact issue that this is attempting to address in our town. ”

Safety of course, It’s stated clearly in the ordinance.

But I’m still waiting to find out, quantitatively, what’s suspected of being “unsafe” to begin with, how the conclusion was made that unsafe conditions will be found, and in fact what injuries/deaths/illnesses will be prevented by this ordinance. IOW, what’s the metric here?

So far the answers we’ve got to that question are that it’s an asinine question and that it’s not illegal because other towns do it. But I’m sure there must be a real reason other than “trust us, it’s good for you” lol

justintime justintime
December 17th

this is a done deal, the town council couldn't care less what you think about it at this point

they will pass this and not even care what they are doing is wrong on multiple levels,

It appears there is no document official or otherwise available to the public. containing the pertinent information relating to the proposed CCO ordinance.

The construction office can not supply an application that may or may not have all of the details of the requirement. I was informed an application is not available since the ordinance has not been passed yet. I was also told that some parts of the ordinance still need to be tweaked.

I don't understand why a document no matter what it is such as a working draft, is not available. The town attorney, council, and or construction officials must be referring to a document in order to conduct their due diligence. This CCO requirement was implemented (prematurely) this spring and a few property owners had to apply for and pay a fee for a CCO inspection here in Hackettstown. The filing process, fees, inspection check list etc, etc must be memorialized somewhere as this was in place. Perhaps an email, a note on a napkin, details on the back of an envelope- something. Even the "old" application should have at least some bullet points that may still be applicable. The CCO memorandum on the town website is far from providing all of the details. I enjoy a nice treasure hunt like the next guy but this is getting silly. I must add the construction office was very helpful and pleasant. I am disappointed and frankly surprised to learn that I was just the second person making an inquiry about this proposed ordinance however.

I received the ordinance 2018-16 via an OPRA filing. It states nothing regarding the CCO. It is simply the fee adjustment for a CO. The fee for new construction CO has been reduced as a matter of fact. I noted just the other day the council meeting minutes were finally updated online to include meetings through November 8th. They were not updated when I made my inquiry otherwise I would have simply read the adopted ordinance there.

Remember, this ordinance will impact every single property owner in Hackettstown at some point. Folks need to be informed. Attend the 12/27 meeting at 6:30 PM. Tell others!

I spoke to a Real Estate agent in town. They told me it was a done deal...hmmmmm

I have spoken with three different realtors so far in the area as well. While it's not officially a done deal I agree it will be adopted and become a requirement that will impact every single property owner in town. That's fine as it may weed out some (yet to be quantified) unsafe and or illegal situations that the current required inspections may miss for some reason. I would just like to know what the details of the requirement will be prior to it being adopted.

Me too Greg. The realtor said that it was a safety issue.That's all well and good. However, I would like to see the data that they used and what protocol will be in place to conduct these home inspections.

Great work, Greg. Unfortunately, as some have noted, I fear that the public interest in this ordinance will be too little, too late. It seems more likely that, no matter who says what at the next Town Council meeting, they will just enact the ordinance, "for the public's own good."

I expect that the reason you couldn't find much information about the ordinance is that it is all overly simplistic and vague. The town just plans to pass a generic law requiring an inspection, ultimately leaving it to the Construction Office to interpret it without guidance. No matter what, the town will collect the inspection fees. However, that leaves much open to interpretation and dispute. It also puts the Construction Office officials in positions of immense power and responsibility.

In essence, it sounds like the Inspectors will be granted the authority of judge, jury, and executioner, during each inspection. They can inspect a house with, for example, a finished basement, and just ignore it. Or they can make the homeowner tear out the entire finished basement, even though it has been finished for decades, ultimately costing the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars. Or they can opt for something in between those extremes. All without any guidance from elected officials, and all without any kind of specialized training or education (other than that necessary to obtain a Building Inspector's License).

Maybe the town can get a good deal on some vintage Stasi uniforms, for the inspectors. . . .

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 20th

Don’t forget about the timing of said proposals and meetings. This is a very stressful time of year. I’m about to have a meltdown every other day! Luckily I live in independence and will sell this spring or summer at the latest. Good luck Hackettstown residents!

Don't forget meeting is at 6:30PM December 27th at the municipal building.

This ordinance will impact EVERY property owner in Hackettstown at some point. It is imperative to attend the meeting to discover the details in this proposed ordinance.


justintime justintime
December 26th

OK Htown Lifers, let's see how many people show up and put their money where their mouth is. I hope to see and hear all the issues that are brought up on the forum at the meeting tonight. Putting these issues on the record at the town meeting is where it really counts. So let's see a good turn out. In my experience, it is best to speak about the issues and their effect to the town. Do Not just get up there and complain, that will not get you anywhere.


Morp, please tell me when it starts..6:30.?..

At this point while on the agenda tonight, 2018-18 will most likely be shelved to a later date. All of the details are not in place yet. Therefore the committee and construction officials will need to look at this further. I'm not sure if it will be a simple motion to shelve it tonight or some discussion as far as an outline of the proposal etc. Clearly further discussion will follow. We will see!

Pampurr, This meeting starts at 6:30PM as per the minutes approved last January I believe it was.

Thank you.

I was at the meeting. I was happy that the Mayor tabled the ordinance because she had some concerns but I'm sure the buzz of citizens helped too. I thought those who spoke up did a great job in letting the town know what we want and don't want. I'm glad that the council offered to hold a ordinance committee meeting for the public to attend and comment. I think it will be a good way to put together an ordinance that makes sense for the taxpayers and the town as a whole. BUT the citizens who have concerns will need to attend the meeting and publicly voice their opinions and issues in order for the ordinance to be crafted to what our community wants. You need to stay vigilant and make sure you attend and speak up. Again, nicely done by all parties involved.

Nice to see you last night. If you have a shed on your property is the town inspector going to charge you for it? What about a outside light sensor or a pole lamp? These are things that came to mind. This could get ridiculous. No specifics. But came up with a solid number what they want to charge the residents. That’s shaky.

Pampurr the way the process was described to me was when a CCO request is made the inspector will have the entire permit history for that property with him/her prior to the inspection. Simply if something is noticed that does not have a permit on file, then that would be noted and a permit would need to be obtained. If said item is not code compliant then it would need to be brought up to the current standard. And yes, sheds are included in that. It's to what extent of detail will the inspection consist of. I would gather it will be focused mainly on safety issues. Certain items like furnaces and water heaters are top priority as well as bedrooms in lower levels, poorly constructed decks etc. I don't think it will be a forensic inspection but without the proper language in the law it could be.

I too look forward to the opportunity to learn the totality of this ordinance as well as have the public have some input. Having an open forum for this potentially very impactive type of ordinance I feel is imperative. As mentioned by several property owners last night this could be both a simple safety inspection or could cost folks untold thousands of dollars if un-permitted work performed long before they owned the property is discovered.

I feel there should always be a stand alone public forum for an ordinance of this magnitude. As the Mayor correctly stated council can't have a separate public forum process on every proposed ordinance but one of this scope and nature should as it will impact every property owner in town.

While it was stated by a few of the council members to ignore all social media and other websites when looking for information on a particular item, that is where information was found in this case.The public must have ALL of the facts prior to a hearing /adoption meeting in order to ask informed, pertinent questions or raise concerns. The fact is I contacted, the clerks office, council, the town website including reading all of the council minutes, an OPRA request and the construction office. There was very little information to be found and nothing in writing. The most I learned was from the construction office but that was still just a few points and a brief overview- not the entire scope of what is being proposed. Once a public meeting is conducted then a small group including the ordinance committee, construction officials as well as a local realtor, landlord and possibly a resident can formulate the comments and concerns along with the draft of the current ordinance and create something that is fair and practical for everyone.

It does appear the the fee will be $125 for both residential and commercial inspections.

“While it was stated by a few of the council members to ignore all social media and other websites when looking for information on a particular item, that is where information was found in this case.”

I understand the sentiment, but if governments were as transparent as they claim to be then this observation would be moot.

This thread was all about information, or rather the lack of it, as pertaining to work done by the council. So as a council they can work to remedy the situation by being more clear and transparent if it really is important to them. If not then this type of discussion will always occur. Personally, i think the conversations is a good thing.

justintime justintime
December 28th

When will the ordinance go into effect?

happiest girl
December 28th

Exactly, Justintime. Conversation is always positive for sure.

Happiest- The ordinance was not approved last night. There will be another meeting in order to gather more input from the public and industry professionals before a final hearing and approval.

Thank you very much, to those that attended the meeting.

I was planning on going last night, but was sick, and caring for sick family members.
Thanks to those who went and spoke - I'm glad it was tabled. When will be the next meeting in which it will be discussed, and input from the community will be taken?

Greg --- does that mean when it's approved it goes into immediate effect?

happiest girl
December 28th

A commercial building is far more complex in it’s entirity to a single family home. That includes electrical, plumbing, heating etc. plus your inspector would have to be an expert in utilities and structure of buildings. Why then the fee for inspection exactly the same? Who came up this specific fee?

I agree with pampurr, the fees should be different for resident, single family rental, multi family rental, and commercial. Take it easy on the little guys would ya? Time spent "inspecting" will be different as well, and what is inspected should also be different.

Through all this it is quite apparent the town did not have all their ducks in a row on this one being they curbed it until they could do more research.....part of me wants to say really? They are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks and what they can get away with to make more money, while another part of me wants to say well at least they are doing the right thing and not just steam rolling the residents.

I still think it's b.s. to have to pay for an inspection that could potentially wind up costing you thousands as to no fault of your own....under the cover of "safety" they are doing us a big favor or something.

Happiest- That was a point a realtor brought up. For example if this is passed on a Thursday night and a person has a closing set for Friday are they now required to get a CCO was the question. That will be a discussion point as well. I'd gather after it is adopted it will take effect in 30 days or something like that.

Spot on justintime. They would love everyone to ignore social media and just do what they like. I would bet the vast majority of residents in this town only found about it because of social media.

Thanks to all who showed up and voiced their opinions! Unfortunately, I've been away this week and couldn't attend the meeting, but it's nice to know that there are still some good citizens willing to stand up and be heard! That's what it really means, to be an American.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
December 28th

If the opposing voices were greeted with a tight smile from the decision-makers, it is likely a done deal.

Hackettstown got along just fine without such laws for...pretty much ever.

I agree that things have changed over the years, abetted by the politicians of either stripe that are the subject of endless....and ultimately pointless...arguments on this site.

I have a couple of family members who own homes in Hackettstown.

I cringe every time I see another baby stroller or mother with a bunch of kids-in-tow going down Main Street, since I believe that my family members will be forced to pay for a part of their education and all that comes with it.

This ordinance is a side-handed "solution" to a problem that has gotten out of control for reasons beyond which I have even addressed.

I oppose it, but can't do much about it. Still, I can understand some of the governmental "regulations" (yikes!) that led up to this.

I was ask by a member of town council to help notify the public that at tonight’s town council meeting the chair of the ordinance committee decided to withdraw the CCO ordinance and the town will not be pursuing it.

Thank you for letting us all know, Jim.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
January 10th

The people of Hackettstown don't need dictator rulership.

happiest girl
January 10th

I am very happy to hear this. Thank you!

If not for this Forum, rest assured it would have been ramrodded through. Good job, all... citizenship works.

That's true. I remember when they were trying to put a cell tower up on High Street and we fought against it.

happiest girl
January 10th

This is great news!!!!! Thank you jim!

That's 1 for the public! Everyone who took the time to go to the meetings should be very proud of themselves!!!

Thanks for the good news, Jim. I must say however, I do enjoy a hint of irony to learn of this here on our local forum as I was mildly admonished by council when I stated I was getting all sorts of information regarding this ordinance on this site as well as other social media.

I am very pleased to hear this ordinance has been withdrawn. Since I first started this thread I have been studying scores of similar CCO requirements in NJ and other states. The sum and substance I garnered from this type of requirement is that it can be very far reaching and seems to generally be just another fee/tax/money grab, whatever from property owners. Particularly "penalized" are landlords with multi units. I was not able to find any data regarding any quantifiable improvement to public safety where these CCO requirements are in place.

I'm pleased so many got involved and may have played a part in this decision. I guess the masses have been heard!

Sounds like it’s time to replace the existing council members as their re elections come up.

Shame on them for admonishing tax payers for trying to find out what their legislative body was doing....they cannot communicate and are not open and forthcoming with the people they were elected to represent.

Remember voters...every vote is critical in a local election.

Timmy good show the county free holders need to be looked at too

Caged Animal Caged Animal
January 10th

“Sounds like it’s time to replace the existing council members as their re elections come up.”

On the contrary Timmy, appearances are that the council recognized there were some holes in the current plan and they pulled an about face. That’s exactly what folks should want in a governing body.

It’s just my opinion, but I’m impressed with the council and I’d hope others would be too. If I were still a resident this simple action on their part would be enough to secure my vote in the next election...

justintime justintime
January 10th

In defense of council, they were simply stating one should go to the town hall or council when looking for information regarding a proposed ordinance in town, not to rely on gossip on a town forum etc.They are correct. My point was even though I sent an OPRA request, communicated with a council member, spoke with folks in town hall and and had three different conversations with the construction office in town, I was never able to get anything in writing and only got a few slivers of information from the construction office. Obviously now in retrospect the proper due diligence was most likely not completed hence the lack of any substantial information. It was in fact this site as well as some other social media that I was able to compile some information regarding this now defunct ordinance.

I agree 100% with your thoughts, Justintime.

I concur with the above. A good leader--much as any good person, in general--will be able to realize and accept that something is wrong and quickly act to correct it . . . even if it was a mistake that they made themselves. I don't know every single detail of the proposed ordinance, but it seems to me like it was a suggestion that someone brought up, based upon similar things already done in other NJ towns; not at all unreasonable. Nobody exercised executive authority and just enacted the ordinance--it was proposed, and it was open for discussion. And it WAS discussed, at some length, with the Town Council, and the Council opted not to proceed with the ordinance.

Taken on it's own, I don't see that as reason to replace the Town Council--I see it as reason to appreciate their efforts to do what is best for the town and to respect the wishes of the town's residents.

We are all quick to criticize our elected officials, whenever they do the slightest wrong. Let us also learn to offer our appreciation, respect, and support, when they do something right.

JerseyWolf JerseyWolf
January 10th

Will the people that were charged the fee before they rescinded it last year able to get their money back?

Wow. Sometimes you CAN fight city hall. Excellent.

JeffersonRepub JeffersonRepub
January 11th

Kb, it was never a thing, it was a new ordinance the town was looking to put on the books but never passed, so nobody was charged.

Actually Darrin it was in place for a short time last spring. A few sales were required to pay the $285 at that time and have the inspection. It was discovered that the CCO was not technically valid as there was not an ordinance on the books therefore it was rescinded until the ordinance was in place. Now that it will not be, the property sellers who did participate in the CCO are entitled to a full refund. The council is aware of this and stated they will remedy it.

Don't get too excited..the " remedy" might be a revised ordinance

I believe the Council deserves to be commended. They had an ordinance that was obviously not in the best interest of the people, listened like a good Council should do, and removed it. They could have easily played the power game and pushed this through, but the didn't. It's very easy to criticize, but we should be mature enough to compliment when our elected officials do the right thing! Thank you for listening!

Just make sure it doesn’t sneak back in when nobody is looking...

Mark Mc. Mark Mc.
January 11th

Greg there is really no avenue to announce a withdraw of an ordinance it would just expire at year's end if not passed. But since council promised the public that they would invite the public to the ordinance committee meetings to discuss it, council wanted to get the word out that the ordinance was dead rather than have people think those meetings were taking place.

In the end, the concept of a CCO was solely to address safety issues found in town. It was never a money grab and it was never meant to be snuck in, but the town did not fully understand the full impact to the town residents and foresee all situations the ordinance would create. They listened to the realtors and commercial and residential property owners that called, emailed and attended meetings and tried to address all their concerns. The town lowered the fees, changed the wording but After looking at all the ways to address each concern, there was no way to draft an ordinance that satisfied both the public and town's best interests without making it so complex so they withdrew it completely.

Thanks to Greg, Laurel and others that came to the meetings to let us know your concerns and experiences and thanks to those that emailed and called the town and council to let us know your concern.

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