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Monday, May 27, 2013

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Town tickets early signs of blight in Gloucester City

Gloucester City, you see, won’t stand for overgrown yards, trash left out or homes falling apart. City officials say they’re not out to harass people or raise revenue, but rather want to maintain a town with many aging buildings.

Over the summer the city bumped up its fine structure for maintaining a disorderly house, to $1,200. Other fines can go as high as $2,000, and some carry per-day fines that grow over time with noncompliance. The city even has a police officer who assists in targeting vacant and abandoned properties.

Grass, weeds or brush over 10 inches high are considered as being overgrown. The grass sprouting from cracks in the sidewalk is a violation as well. The city puts a $200 tax lien per man per hour to have it cut away. 

During a tour of properties last week, Mayor William James stood in amazement outside a Mercer Street building whose side and back yards were covered in vegetation. Stecklair scribbled down the address as a reminder to draft a letter to the owner.

“It’s like we’re living in the hills of West Virginia,” James said as mosquitoes swarmed around a nearby bush. “Imagine being the guy next door living next door to that and trying to sit in his backyard having a burger.”

In addition to normal patrols by police and the city’s zoning officer, James, Police Chief George Berglund and City Administrator Jack Lipsett sometimes walk with Stecklair to get a better look at problem properties.

See complete article (note the article has been removed)

It is great that Gloucester City is making an effort to clean-up blight. However, as the pictures attached to this article show, that blight from the west side of Gloucester City has spread to homes on the east side of our community. 

Grant you some of these homes are abandoned, but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to remain looking this way. As Mayor James mentioned in the article, these properties are creating health hazards and are unpleasant to look at. Plus, neglected properties devalue the other homes in the neighborhood.

Every spring/summer for the last several years CNBNews has run at least one photo of a property on this side of the tracks that has overgrown weeds standing several feet high. And, unless we complain the properties never get cited.

A resident should not have to protest about the unsightly property next to his or her home. That is why we have a Housing Officer. Mayor and Council has given him the power under Chapter 25 of the “Gloucester City Housing Code, titled Brush, Weeds and Debris”, to have the weeds cut and the debris removed using city employees. The city can charge the owner of the offending property at a rate of $200 per man hour. The ordinance also gives the city the right to file a lien against the property to collect that fine.


This quote by Mayor James to the reporter from a daily newspaper last October says it best: “It’s a direct reflection of your city government if they don’t address stuff like this.”

Related: Neighborhood Blight Will Destroy A Community



 300 unit block of Walnut Avenue-Grass and weeds over 10 inches high

East Thompson Avenue--Grass over 10 inches high, trash, debris

North Harley Avenue--Grass and weeds over 10 inches high

Lane Avenue--Grass is over 10 inches high, trash, debris

North Harley Avenue--Grass over 10 inches high, tall weeds, trash/debris 

Orlando Avenue--Grass is over 10 inches high

North Stinson Avenue-Grass is over 10 inches high, trash and debris

Park Avenue--Grass over 10 inches high, trash and debris

Park Avenue--Trash, debris, grass over 10 inches high

South Harley Avenue, trash, debris, weeds, grass over 10 inch high

Gloucester City Municipal Building, Paint peeling off all of the widows, west side of the building

Gloucester City Municipal Building, paint peeling off top window, window sill is rotten, front corner of the building, 

Mayor James sees keeping a clean town as an essential duty for both the citizens and their city.

 ~ Gloucester City Mayor William James

October 3, 2012 Courier Post


To register a complaint about a property in your neighborhood call

Housing Code Inspector Joe Stecklair 856-456-7689 [email protected]

City Administrator Jack Lipsett 856-456-0205, [email protected]

Mayor William James 856-229-2043

You can also take a photo of the property and send it to [email protected]. We will post it on our website.

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city looks worse than ever said...

we must run the landlords and renters out of town, several years later....... hows that worked out?

Baker said...

Most of the homes being showed are bank owned. Why isn't the banks taken care of the grass? And if the city would sell the houses they have (that have been empty for years) for $100.00. But the catch would be no slum lords, they person has to bring it up to code, and live in it for at least 5 years. The city would get the taxes,and they would be maintained. But no we care more about the boat.

56k is faster than what we have in town said...

more reasons why this town government needs to go. hundreds of homes in terrible shape, schools under performing, a drug epidemic with dealers and addicts roaming the streets, no jobs to be found anywhere, a stinky trash factory being put in town, a mayor who does whatever he pleases while only looking out for himself and his close cronies, and the technology infrastructure of a third world country where my 56k dial-up internet service is missed because that was more reliable then what my comcast internet and verizon dsl has ever given me. I give up and can't sell my house if I wanted to in this town, nobody will buy it.

What happened to if people didn't take care of their property the city would put a lien on their tax bill and then we could get rid of these vermin that ruin this town?

56k is faster than what we have in town said...

more reasons why this town government needs to go. hundreds of homes in terrible shape, schools under performing, a drug epidemic with dealers and addicts roaming the streets, no jobs to be found anywhere, a stinky trash factory being put in town, a mayor who does whatever he pleases while only looking out for himself and his close cronies, and the technology infrastructure of a third world country where my 56k dial-up internet service is missed because that was more reliable then what my comcast internet and verizon dsl has ever given me. I give up and can't sell my house if I wanted to in this town, nobody will buy it.

What happened to if people didn't take care of their property the city would put a lien on their tax bill and then we could get rid of these vermin that ruin this town?

Len Abate said...

What's up with the peeling paint on the municipal building?

No wonder people don't give a shit about the appearance of their own properties.

What message is this sending to visitors to our community?

Instead of wasting money on a boat the city should be spending it on fixing up the municipal building and cleaning up these blighted properties.

Disgraceful said...

From the courier post article: Mayor James sees keeping a clean town as an essential duty for both the citizens and their city.

Well mayor James how about starting with the properties that are pictured.

big banks have ruined america said...

camden county freeholders and every city in camden county should file a lawsuit with the atornery general office against all of these banks to do what they need to do.

have these banks take care of these lawns and homes. sell them to people at a price they can afford to have tax dollars return to these towns instead of draining these towns resources.


I had my house up for sale for the last year but because I live next door to one of these properties shown in the photos I am unable to sell it.

I dropped my price once already. If I drop it any further I will be giving it away.

Come on mayor I voted for you, now do something for me clean these properties up.

John Doe said...

If someone is so pissed off about their next door neighbor having high grass or trash on the property then go to said person's house and talk to them about it. If the house is vacant or the neighbor is not compliant then cut the grass and pick the trash up yourself. I know it sounds like hell but it's better to have it look clean than crap. If all else fails then just call the city up and ask for them to clean it. All it takes is one person to help out, don't think about yourselves.

Harry M said...

Mr. Doe,

The mayor tells a reporter the city is cracking down on slum properties. Yet there is nothing being done about these homes.

I'm 80 years old , I have called the city but they ignored my complaint.

I pay my taxes and have to live next to this crap.

If one of these properties were located next to the mayor do you think his complaint would go unanswered?

I am too old to move or I would leave tomorrow , but then again why should i have to leave?

The city should enforce the ordinance. If Stecklair can't do the job get rid of him and find someone who wants to work.

Interesting topic said in reply to Harry M...

I may only be half your age but I have learned that Joe Stecklair is very capable of enforcing the ordiances and even some rules he makes up on his own.

The criteria for enforcement;
Political favors.
Offenses against the Democrat Club.
Perceived political enemies.
Orders/requests from Mayor or Council.
Retaliation for friends/associates.

If other readers have other criteria to add please do so. So that we all understand how he functions. He loves to be in the spotlight so here is your chance to give him his fifteen minutes of fame.

Joe said...

Cant even paint the municipal bldg. ....but yet under the James gang ...the town debt has went from 6 million to 34 a re assessment is luck to the residents of Gloucester

taxpayer said...

Stecklair is a buddy of the Mayor's. He does what he wants when he wants. If you are friends or family, you get a CO without a problem. If you aren't, you will get a 5 page list of bullshit things to do. Question him and you will get 6 pages instead. Wagner is no better, he is a clone of Stecklair. Both think they are big men with power although they are just pawns. Sad thing is the little power they do have, they abuse it. Politics in this town sucks.

Send this to courier post said...


You should forward this article and the when will fios be available article with all of its comments to the courier post for them to do a followup with our great politicians.

reader said...

The James Gang ran on the ticket to get rentals under control, and they blasted the gorman administration for their lack luster performance. In my opinion the James administration has done more harm than good for this town. This will be their legacy,fewer buisnesses, fewer residents , more unkept rentals ,more debt,more waste(the boat),no developement of king street and the pier,no composting facility, no information given to the public without an opra request, above the law politicians,a police department soon to be lost to camden city,and councilmen moving out of town. None of these guys should ever say anything bad about the Bob Gorman administration again.

Kim Daley said...

I lived here all my life instead of showing the grass being overgrown, which don't get me wrong, how about we clean up Market St. and third St. and follow all the way down to King St. clean up the drug dealers and the homes down that area!!!If you wanted to take your children or grandchildren to the park on King St. residents have to look at that garbage. People selling drugs right in the public view!! They have no respect for this city, The city needs to crack down the dirtbags who give this city a bad name!!! Most of those who live there are from out of town!! TIME TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH!!!

Nameplates said...

I don't completely understand you closing further comments on your recently posted Parts 1 & 2 Stories.

I imagine it took a bit of time to investigate and prepare your stories. Yet your reasoning for closing comments seems to me because of a few unruly posts "Which u may Edit or not post at your discretion " makes me wonder.

Great Reporting by the way. Sad but true Blight and numerous problems pointed out n potentially u maybe able to really help by having others post ideas n solutions right?

Is it really because you or whoever just wanted to stir the pot n r too lazy or understaffed to deny or edit a few off color posts?

We all have opinions, I just didn't think u would cave on a story that may help make or break Gloucester City.


CNBNewsnet said...

If you want to further the discussion both stories are posted on our Facebook page.

Jonathan Anderson said...

Wow, I don't live there or know anything about what's going on, but I do know that I don't see one single positive message about the current administration. This should be a wake up call to them. Obviously something isn't right....

H said...

Banks who own the houses should be fine for not taking care of the houses. The city should take care of the side walks the owners do not own the side walk the city does. The owner should take care of what they actually own the grass on their property. The side walk and what is past should be the city problem. If it is abandon house who no one owns then the city should take care of it too. If it is owned by a realtor then they should have to take care of it and be fined if it is not being taken care of then. If you have rules they need to be fair for everyone! Not just homeowners.

Negativity or Facts??????? said in reply to Jonathan Anderson...

Jonathan, I will assume you've heard the phrase "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". 
I copied this from another thread on this page.

Consider this;
Mayor James is a city pensioner.
Councilman Hutchinson is a city pensioner.
Councilman Johnson is a city pensioner
Councilman Spencer is a public servant.
Councilman Keating is a public servant.
Councilwoman Baus is a public servant.
Councilman Parry is the father of a public servant that was convicted of civil rights crimes.

Our governing body is being advised by a Haddon Heights lawyer that believes that "letting the community knows what's going on is counterproductive".

The James administration promised to be an open and transparent government. Yet their actions show that they are practicing the advice of their counsel.

I am a democrat, but not an active member of the Democrat Club, and I was told by a council member to call his cell if I want information or rejoin the club. What does that tell you?

In the recent past, the current political cronies, have demanded "positive comments only" when discussing the governing body's activities. It appears that they view questions as negativity and praise as positivity.

I interpret that to mean that they do not want to speak to me unless I am going to praise them or pat them on the back in public.

But it seems that those persons who speak on this blog are the not so silent minority.
But I would say if you want to assess the Gloucester City governing body you or its citizens should take a ride through Gloucester City.

Keep in mind that the James Administration has had absolute control of the City for the past seven years. You have to realize that the beautiful sports facilities were a gift of the US Super Fund and the high quality school buildings were a gift of the NJ Abbott Fund.

Now Gloucester City is experiencing the reemergence of the Democrats I grew up with.
You see Councilman Johnson was the Public Works Director and Councilman Keating was the City Administrator of Gloucester City and is currently the Public Works Director of Camden City. Each has more than 30 years of experience in these two Cities so you can give them credit for their conditions.

If my comments seem unduly negative please feel free to ignore them. Maybe I’m just not suited to be a Gloucester City resident and do not measure up to the standard Gloucester City sets.

Anonymous said...

You guys are a bunch of panzi cry babies, how bout instead of expecting them to have superpowers you call the cops when you see a drug deal to ensure they are caught, record them and show the police, then they have grounds to investigate and make an arrest, the section 8 allowed by the Gorman administration is the reason for all of the low class people in town, How can the mayor be blamed for an incompetent network of banks who actually own the homes and do nothin but let them sit, i worked for the City and had to deal with the bullshit first hand, rest assured it takes allot of work to maintain that small town, especially with all of the entitles f**ck who wont even pick up a piece of trash off the ground, go somewhere with the negativity, James could do some things better but keep in mind that the economy is terrible, which pushes people to sell drugs, You speak about the city officials as if they were the ones selling them, why dont you all come together as a community and make some change instead of complaining about it, the economy is bad like i said, for things to work everyone needs to come together. That is all.....And i wasnt full time for the city, i was part time, and i am in no way friends with mayor James, or part of as some of you put it, "Gang of cronies".

M. McDermott said...

You are right James is not solely the reason this city is spiraling downward. It is every democrat administration that has ruled this city for the last 30 years that is to blame. Include former mayor Bevan, the so called Independent, in that bunch too. In the 80's he ruled this city for 8 years, that is when our city started to look like Camden. So who does James name as an advisor? Bevan!

All I know is the city keeps raising my taxes so it can buy more properties that end up sitting empty, adding to this city's blight.

Would you be so kind to name what you think James has accomplished in his 7 years he has been in office?

Convince me sir that we are better off today than we were seven years ago and I will gladly buy you a beer. In fact I will buy you several.

Forget the school, and don't include the renovated softball and baseball fields.

Reaction said...

To Post #22.
What prompted you to bring drugs into the discussion?If the cops wouldn't lock themselves inside city hall so much we would have less drug problems.

Your defense of James having to function in a bad economy has a hollow ring to it. He has spent more than any of his predecessors. It wasn't bad for him and Bevan.

As a part time housing inspector maybe you could tell us how many units are bank owner versus how many units are city owned?

As a former public servant you are proving what another post said about the public servants demeaning the people who feed them. We are not panzi ass cry babies. But I don't thank you for speaking out. That is more than we get from James and Bevan.

Tell me the last time you saw James or Stecklair respond favorably to someone they considered a political enemy?

What do you think of the Gorman team coming back?

To Post #23

I think Bevan was an independent. But he lacked both leadership and decision making skills. That is a formula for failure.

The James Administration and cronies would say that the Sail Boat is a great asset and improvement. The Police and Firemen would say that the Chatham Square purchase was worth the 7 million dollar investment. Others would say that the recognition that Southport is not fit for residential development was wort the 5 million plus investment.

But I'm sorry to say I can't think of anything worth more than a thousnd dollars that might be worth a mention as making us better off. Except maybe the new computers and blackberries that allow almost all city employees to read Cleary's Note Book 24/7.

lost cause said...

my drinking water was brown last week .

CNBNewsnet said...

For the last two weeks our water has also been brown. Not every day, but off and on.

The water dept told me it was because of the cold weather.

We don't drink it. But we do use it to shower.

I keep waiting for my skin to change color.

Is anyone else having a problem?

Not my fault!!!!! said...

The claim "cold weather" is bogus. Rust and sediment are the distribution system causes. Poor treatment and filtration are the in plant causes. Immediated area flushing is the quickest way to eliminate the problem.

The Water Department knew for over a week that a fish kill was ocurring several years ago but secretly let friends and family know while they quietly changed treatment levels. Consequently some of us lost many aquarium fish because family were told not to use city tap water but keep it hush-hush.

Fred Schindler has too many outside interests to pay close attention to his full time job. Put him on the same list as Jack Lipsett. They are here to show up and collect a pay check. Not to push the workforce.

diane dille said in reply to John Doe...

that's right, if their so dammed concerned they should clean it up and cut the grass them selves. Isn't that what a good neighbor is for?? Let them condemn, tear down, and let bank owned houses sit. soon there will be no one to get tax's from, and the town I once called home will be no more. they'll have no more local government, because there will be no more tax money to pay the bastards. The only ones thinking about themselves is the local town government---how much are they going to get out of it!!!!! I feel so sorry for the good people of Gloucester.

CNBNewsnet said...

The man said the water in the water tower froze, and as it thawed out the chunks of ice might have rubbed up against the inside of the tank which is rusty.

I asked why it was only affecting some people and not everyone. Never did get an answer.

Boater said...

I hope Jack is protecting our boat from hull damage due to ice in the river.

M. McDermott said...

For the past 34 years Gloucester City has spiral downward. Start with Bevan, up until the present, naming what each mayor will be best remembered for?

Here are my suggestions:

Bevan: Not developing the riverfront, raising taxes, mismanagement of the city, being found guilty in Brooklawn court of hitting Gorman, padding city payroll with cronies

Jost: Raising taxes, not developing the Coast Guard base

Billingham: Raising taxes, and giving Holt the Coast Guard Base for 99 years

Gorman: Raising taxes, naming the apartment eyesore on Broadway after his father. Padding the payroll with family and friends. During his term the city gets the unwanted label of being a UEZ and a ABBOTT district.

Kilcourse: Raising taxes, building a marina without electric or water, padding the city payroll with family and friends, and lying about the development of Southport

James: Wasting money on a city owned boat, raising taxes, padding the city payroll with family and friends, blight, million dollar bond debt, spending millions to buy properties that remain vacant, compost plant, broken promise of developing riverfront.

Am I wrong? After 7 years of the James administration are we any better off? What has he done to improve Gloucester City, can anyone tell me?

Right on said in reply to M. McDermott...

Laying your argument out that way is a real conversation killer. There is not much you can say except to expand on the waste and abuse.

But I guess we could say that each succeeding administration became bolder and spent more. Consequently James has gone over the top and will have to stop spending. We will probably see a bond rating decrease before Johnson get's him out of office.

Wheezer said...

McDermott, why dont you run?
Easy to stay on the sideline and second guess.
How would you run the city without raising taxes.
I assume you are republican so what would they have done differently?

M. McDermott said...

I am not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I am just a guy who is fed up with politicians who make promises that they don’t keep after they are elected. A guy who is fed up paying out most of his retirement income for taxes to not only this city but to the county and state.

What would I do different? I would run this city as a business.

For example, the city ’s budget is $18 million. I read somewhere that $14 million is designated just for employees. I also remember reading the city has 51 employees receiving retirement benefits. Obviously you would begin with that expense.

How do you cut back on employees? We pay an outside contractor to pick up our trash. I would do the same with the removal of snow, and the maintenance of our parks and playgrounds. You wouldn’t need all the heavy equipment the city owns, (trucks, backhoes, etc.) a big savings just in gas and insurance. You would cut your public works department down to the barebones through attrition. It is cheaper to hire part time employees, no benefits or retirement package needed. Instead of spending $20 million on the water department, I would have joined the NJ American Water. Once again the goal would be to eliminate our biggest expense, employees.

For the last 30 years every administration’s policy has been tax and spend. Because of that policy I am being forced to find another place to live. I can't afford to keep paying out 3/4 of my pension on taxes. The problem, I can't sell my home. I reduced the price twice, still no bites. I grew up here, I wanted to die here. But at some point I have to face the facts, I can't afford it any longer.


My mother lives on King St she has lived there for 43 years and before that her grandparents lived there. My grandfather Bill flexon was into the politics of our town and now she has been told that she cant have a bird feeder on the stump of a tree that she had removed so it wouldn't fall in the neighbors house and that neighbor has called the city on her to make sure the squirrels don't attack meanwhile they rent not own and this is where Gloucester seems to be losing its battle fly by night

Helping the neighbhood said...

I realize that this is an older article being re-run, but using the assumption that all the neighboring homeowners take care of their own grass-cutting (don't hire a service), wouldn't it be of benefit to the entire neighborhood to cut, at least, the front lawn of that vacant house so that it looks like someone is tending to it? It would make the neighborhood look better and would possibly prevent vagrants from seeing an untended house waiting for the right person to come and make off with copper pipes or trespass at all. Most lots are small enough that it wouldn't take much time to run the mower over that empty house lawn while you're already doing it. Part of why things run down is because people don't watch out for one another. I'm saying the front lawn because there would still be a reason for the city to cite the owners, but at least the street would look maintained at a passing glance.