New approach to solving neighborhood problems

June 14, 2011 2:19:35 PM PDT
In most communities when neighbors feel like their neighbor is not taking care of their lawn or violating code, it's up to the homeowner to report the infraction.

But in North Arlington, it led to more than a few neighbor disputes, so the town came up with a new plan that saved money at the same time.

Frank Guanci has been enforcing the parking laws in North Arlington for twenty years, but just this month, he got a new responsibility - spotting code violations, like the tall grass he reported at one home.

"I've lived in the town for 45 years and I don't mind doing a little bit extra," he said.

Like many municipal governments, North Arlington is trying to save taxpayer dollars. So instead of hiring a code enforcement officer, the town is relying on its three parking violations officers to report concerns.

"Small town. Gotta keep up appearances, keep the property values up," home owner Joe Norton said.

For years, North Arlington residents have had to report code violations themselves. That led to some neighbor disputes, so officials are hoping this new program will address problems before they get out of control.

"We want our employees to do the job. We don't want neighbors reporting other neighbors. We'll do the job," Councilman Joseph Bianchi said.

The program is intended to keep North Arlington's streets looking neat and clean, which in turns helps property values.

Town officials start by writing letters to home and business owners who are in violation. If that doesn't work, they get summoned to court.