TOMS RIVER-Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill on Monday lashed out against Toms River homeowner Rabbi Moshe Rotberg after being alerted by residents about illegal activity at Rotberg’s home at 1871 Old Freehold Road. The home, which sat vacant for years has seen a flurry of activity in recent days with construction workers very active on the site.
Hill declared the work going on at the home as “unsightly” and illegal. After reporting the home to the township code enforcement officers, Hill, a retired dentist, inspected the site with the code officer and requested a “stop work” order against Rotberg after seeing hills of construction debris scattered around the home.
In a press release pushed by Hill’s press secretary, Art Gallagher, the Hill said he, “Noticed unsightly construction debris flung around the grounds of a long-vacant Old Freehold Road home on Sunday morning while he was out in the neighborhood.”
The original call for action came from Toms River resident Cindee Fishette who posted a photo of the home a day prior to Hill’s response.
Gallagher said on Monday Hill alerted the Building and Code Departments and returned to the property with a Code Enforcement Officer where he discovered what appear to be multiple violations and work being done beyond the scope of the posted permit. The incident appears to be the first publicized incident of a sitting councilman performing a ride-along in the township with a code enforcement officer to issue a code violation in Toms River.
In nearby Jackson, two years ago, Councilman Robert Nixon was accused of staking out a home of a prominent Jackson rabbi to count the number of guests entering and exiting the rabbi’s home on the Sabbath. Nixon is currently being sued by Agudath Israel of America for his actions.
Despite Hill’s visit with the inspector and call for a shutdown, workers continued working at the site on Tuesday. Rotberg, a well-known rabbi owns a home located nearby at 1833 Old Freehold Road, which according to online business directories is also the business address of the Toms River Learning Center. An adjacent property of the 1833 address is listed as being home to the Chaveirim of Toms River.
Hill said there is a permit posted for HVAC work and interior alternations at Rotberg’s 1871 Old Freehold Road home, but not for other renovations he claimed are being done at the residence.
“There is obvious work being done to alter the exterior of the home and expand the foundation. There is no dumpster or port-a-john on the property,” Hill claimed.
“Work should be stopped at the property until the proper permits are issued, and the contractor’s license is verified,” Hill said. “Citations should be issued for any violations and the Zoning Officer should review the plans to determine if any use variances are required.”
“Yeah. We had a[n] iced tea,” Gartner said.
On Hill’s campaign Facebook page, supporters applauded Hill’s bold move.
“Great work Mo! Doubt any other Mayoral candidate or even the Mayor himself would have bothered to take the time and do the right thing,” said Richard Nashny.
Others used the opportunity to criticize Hill’s endorsement of a 500 unit hi-density hi-rise apartment building in Downtown Toms River.
“So he stopped the construction of one North Dover home, but approved the development of 3000? Looks like Mo has a ways to go to break even,” Michael Johnson Responded.
“How come code enforcement doesn’t see these issue? All they have to do is drive around North Dover and open their eyes,” said resident Dave Mack.
Others urged neighbors to call the police when they see code violations such as the ones reported by Hill.
“Lakewood twp coming to toms river soon if not already,” said another supporter of Hill on his Facebook page.
“They’re going to just say they didn’t know just like they didn’t know they could rent out their swimming pools. Won’t even get a slap on the wrist,” another Hill supporter posted.