Residents Fed Up With Tent City Call For Action; Meeting With Officials To Take Place This Week

Families in the vicinity of Tent City have had enough, and are calling for action. Arlington and Mellville area residents – who say they are suffering from the stench and poor air quality as a result of the camp – haveinformed TLS that a meeting with local officials will be taking place this week in a massive effort to rid the town of the camp, once and for all.

The organizers have called together a public meeting with the attendace of Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, the attorney litigating the Tent City lawsuit for Lakewood Township, and Captain Greg Meyer of the Lakewood Police Department.

The letter, submitted to Township officials, as well as to TLS, reads as follows:

To the members of the Township Committee of Lakewood Township, NJ:

Tent City is the name given to a property located on Block 961.02, Lots 3 and 4 in Lakewood Township, along Cedar Bridge Avenue and Clover Street. It began in 2005 when some homeless local residents created makeshift shelters within this wooded area. By the end of 2010, more than 30 people were sheltering there. Currently, Tent City is an encampment with almost 100 people, and has a leader, Minister Steve Brigham, who has presided since 2008.

This means that without the consent of Lakewood Township, there are people inhabiting properties to which they are not entitled. They use water that has never been tested and approved for use; they build fires for heat and fuel; they trespass onto the adjacent private properties; and in general, they disturb the residents of properties in this area.

In 2010, Lakewood Township brought a suit against this group, contending that the occupiers are trespassers upon property they are not entitled to. The occupiers responded that they have the right to live on the property since Lakewood Township and Ocean County have failed to provide them with adequate emergency shelter or permanent housing.

Result of the lawsuit:

A- Lakewood Township agreed to eliminate the need for the homeless camp by:

1- Identifying a temporary location within Ocean County where homeless individuals will be provided with safe and adequate emergency shelter.
2- Work together with Ocean County to establish the first adequate permanent shelter in the county.
3- Secure permanent housing for these and other homeless individuals in Ocean County.

B- Tent City agreed to contain the homeless camp by:

1- They would not bring new homeless individuals to the premises.
2- They would not advertise the camp.
3- They would not build any additional structures or complete any structures that were under construction at the time.
4- They were not permitted to improve the facilities at the premises for expansion purposes, such as any power generating facilities, waste disposal facilities or water delivery systems.

Since the above agreement:

 Lakewood Township has not established a temporary or permanent shelter
 Tent City has grown more than triple in size, and has violated all 4 of their agreements:
A- The populace has grown, with an influx of residents from areas outside Ocean
County, such as Monmouth County, Atlantic City, New York, and other locations.
B- The camp is advertised online
C- Framed structures have been and are being erected, with durable materials such
as wood.
D- There has been more expansion to improve the premises, including the clearing of
trees for roads wide enough for vehicles to pass through.

Problems for the residents of Lakewood Township:

1-The occupants of the camp are mostly people who suffer from drug addiction, alcohol addiction and mental illness. (taken from Youtube video- Asbury park press). This presents a situation of possible lawlessness, creating fear among nearby residents. Vagrants have trespassed onto private properties in the vicinity. Women and children are afraid to leave their homes and walk their very own streets. Neighbors are looking to sell their homes which is only bringing down the value of the neighborhood.

2- Two very serious problems arise regarding the issue of fires.

a) The occupants warm themselves via campfires or wood-burning stoves which release toxic air pollutants. Wood smoke includes fine particles, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, dioxins and furans. The most dangerous component of wood smoke pollution is the very small particles that make up smoke and soot. These particles are too small to be filtered by the nose and upper respiratory system, so they wind up deep in the lungs. They can remain there for months, causing structural damage and chemical changes, and can decrease lung function. These particles are so small they are easily inhaled deep into the lungs, collecting in the tiny air sacs. This sometimes causes permanent lung damage. Smoldering fires are the worst polluters because they burn at a temperature too low for efficient combustion. One group of toxic air pollutants known as polycyclic organic matter includes benzo(a)pyrene, which may cause cancer. The risks are greater for infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly.

The neighbors of Tent City have been suffering from this harmful and potentially carcinogenic smoke for over two years. And as the encampment keeps growing, the fires have grown both larger and more profuse, until it has become unbearable to live in the vicinity. Also, on cold nights, when the smoke is unable to rise and disperse, and the temperature limits the air movement, the particles seep into the houses through closed doors and windows. Breathing air containing such smoke can cause a number of serious respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. Many young children and adults in the area have developed allergies and asthma from this smoke.

b) The occupants burn garbage and other materials as well, which can be toxic and extremely harmful. Our air is becoming more and more polluted and the issues have become impossible to ignore.

c) The fires also put everyone in danger, both the campers and the nearby residents, as they are not monitored and can easily spread to the areas around. There has already been one death from these fires and one person was severely burned.

The residents of Lakewood Township request that a resolution to this problem be implemented immediately. There is no acceptable reason our taxpaying public should be subjected to this disastrous situation which is unfortunately growing every day, and will be harder to check if ignored any longer.
Thank you.

All neighborhing residents. TLS.

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  1. we must get rid of them, we cannot breath at night!!!! make sure YOU come to the meeting. They Urinate on our lawns and our children are frightened from them!!! Please come THANK YOU

  2. If anyone thinks these are just good people who fell on hard times and aren’t bothering anyone by being there, please go stay for a few days. It’s unsafe for the people in the camp, the neighbors and the first responders who have to deal with them

  3. I feeel bad for them but I am a tax paying resident in the area and they are ruining my neighborhood . It’s not mine or anyone else’s responsibility to find them a proper home. They are adults and should be responsible for themselves. They gotta go

  4. This is an idea.How about putting a shelter in Lakewood ?????Hopefully there is still enough land in Lakewood to build a shelter in an isolated area so no homeowners or businesses are affected!

  5. Where exactly will this meeting be held…I’m definitely going be there! Is this in a basement of someones home? Will women be allowed in?
    I have lots to say about that place!

  6. It has long been past the time to get rid of this so called city. Taxpayers get tickets all the time and here we have people openly defieing the law and nothing is done. Why the double standard???? Close the camp asap.

  7. For once I am in total agreement here. They are squatters and should not be allowed to stay. Why the township agreed to provide shelter for them is beyond me. Most of the people down there are not even Lakewood residents. Time for them to go, can you say class action suit by the tax paying citizens of the town!!!!

  8. Do you guys live under a rock? Oh, I forgot you don’t read the news. Hullo, the township is fighting tent city but the Ocean County JUDGE is blocking the eviction. (moderated) liberal judge.

  9. How come they have garbage cans when no one will get one w/o a CO? Where is the CO that allows all the4 garbage cans? Why is our tax dollars collecting the garbage?

  10. Bravo!! Applause!!! It’s about time someone has enough guts to stick up and fight for justice!!! Kick them all out of there! It’s unsanitary and smelly and a big mess!

  11. I just rode by there at 10:30Pm on Cedar Bridge Road. The air is so foggy, smokey, with a terrible choking odor, that my heart goes out to the residents there. Call in the Board of Health for the squalor and the offensive smoke filled air, call in any township agency that doesn’t allow us to live in our newly built or remodeled homes until it is inspected with a proper Certificate of occupancy. Get the police department, the fire department, and hang up the signs that say condemned. Get everyone out of there. What is the township waiting for? That the whole woods will burn down and people will be killed? Or how about a child living there with asthma will suffocate to death? Just like they condemned the areas at the shore after Hurricane Sandy, Condemn this one too and send everyone out of there.

    Get the bulldozers out and turn the whole place upside down.

    Please dear Lord save us that none of the proper innocent citizens of the surrounding area will be afflicted any longer.

  12. Can someone please explain to me why when someone builds a house in town he is subjected to tons of laws and these tents can stay without CO’s and other permits. Even if they can evict them, they can order the structures taken down. Then the habitant’s will run to a warmer climate.

  13. My heart goes out to the residents who live in proximity to this Tent City. Living there and having to put up with the horrible stench on a nightly basis must be Hell. I hope you succeed in shutting this place down, once and for all.

  14. Call the EPA in Trenton everyday, For air quality violation. Once they dont enforce. You file a lawsuit against the EPA. it will force the EPA to force Lakewood PD and fire to stop all the wood burning going on. No heat the homeless will have to go. BTW understate law I dont think you can use generators the way they do.

  15. I am glad to hear about this meeting. This has been a tremendous hazard for quite some time now. I would be willing to attend and show my support in any way that I can even though I don’t live in the immediate affected area, and many other Lakewood residents would do so as well. There is a problem though with the location of this meeting being in some residents basement.
    I would love to see the concerned committee men open up town hall for this meeting

  16. if i lived on arlington i would be terrified that one of these guys will eventually commit a violent crime. . Keep your wife and children in your sight!

  17. i am a neighbor: Living here has become so bad, when my neighbor opens his porch door, the Smoke outside from tent city sets off his Smoke detector! IT’S NASTY! THanks to everyone taking this initiative -ENUF IS ENUF!!! Anyone who Dares defend what tent city is doing: Come live here for 3 days. It makes u want to sell ur house and move away FAST!

  18. Many of he comments are just not true. No new wood structures, no road widening. The population has been the same since last year or less. he smoke is an issue, how are they to keep warm. How about bringing in temporary electric. It’s always the same, ” I feel bad for these folks”. I have worked on several non profits for help develop a shelter, but its always the same. “We need a shelter, but not in my area” Many of these folks were tax payers at one time, and many people in the Lakewood community receive some form of public assistance. We need to help the lest of our people. Maybe your heart will change if you see a 70 something year old woman living in the mud. Maybe your hearts will soften. Yes, the smoke is a problem, what else are they to do.

  19. It is illegal for me to have a wood fire in my back yard, but tent city is exempt? Two years ago Lakewood fire came to my home and extinguished a small firepit!

  20. Why don’t they move to Central Park in New York City. It’s big enough. Oh, probably NYC won’t allow them. How about some undeveloped lands in a wilderness somewhere, Oh, probably environmentally protected, won’t be allowed there either. So why here in the middle of Lakewood is it tolerated? I don’t live near there, but, every time I drive down Cedarbridge Ave. I have to hold my breath! GO! Everyone pays taxes or rent and they get everything for free?

  21. Its is time for tent city to go.
    The lawlessness must end.
    Don’t worry about bad press.
    Anyone who refuse will be escorted to county jail with a roof over their heads.
    The sanitary and safety conditions are beyond beyond normal.

  22. Quite a few residents are Drug addicts and alcoholics which go hand in hand with jail time. All the wonderful folks who bring them food and cry over their plight are simply ENABLING there addictions. Tough LOVE is needed,not pampering that Reinforces their addictions which always leads to a crime!!!

  23. I’m tired of it.They have taken over property that is not theirs why haven’t they been arrested? If I took over property from the township without permission they would knock it down and fine me.These people want to live for free. They are criminals. If they were normal they would do whatever it takes to find a job and file papers legally to get some type of assistance. Life is hard for everyone right now,you don’t see all of us building on properties that don’t belong to us and not paying taxes.If we didn’t pay taxes on our house they would take them away. I think they need to go and maybe they should be paying taxes for the time they have used this property.

  24. To 28: You are obviously not there to see what has happened. For you to say that it has not increased or no structure or no roads, you must be BLIND.

    I don’t live there and i am furious that this is happening. i feel so bad for the people living in the area.

    I drive by with my car and the 2 minutes it takes to pass is unbearable.

    Why isn’t this being heard in town hall or some township building that has more space then some little basement. I would like to come as well, just like Crystal clear mentioned but there wont be room for everyone.

  25. Air quality violations, fire violations, garbage violations, squalor, untested water, gasoline powered generator violations what about human excrement violations, where there is no toilet, where is that raw sewage going to anyway? Not to mention the fifty filthy chickens and hens that are running around on Cedar Bridge Road. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, trespassing on Township property, illegal loitering, and the list goes on.

    Give notice. Issue the flyers. Announce that the property is condemned and everyone has to move out. Half of the trees have been toppled already for road building and firewood. Get those construction vehicles in there fast, and throw up the town houses, where tax payers will pay for their land forever more. .

    It’s not even about feeling sorry for the people. It’s about having human decency and not allowing this to go on in 2012, 2013. Do not allow this to go on. Senators, Congressman, Governor Christie, elected public officials: Take your stand. This is no way to desperately survive. When you break up the encampment, everyone will have to move along and find a life. And if they can’t , they can sign up for public shelter, and give up the alcohol and drugs.

    Or the flip side will be, no one will do anything. Soon the winter winds and blizzards will come. They’ll burn themselves down to the last bone. A whole encampment can go on fire. We just saw one house completely destroyed from one holiday candle. south of the lake.

    Can you imagine generators, and fires, and propane stoves in all the tents? Who will guarantee that the fires can be contained in the camp if this should happen? The whole town can go up in flames when the high winds begin. We’ve seen them. Wind fans fire. WE just had 90 mph winds just a few weeks ago. WE haven’t forgotten that yet, have we?

    Public Officials take your stand. The choice is obvious.

  26. Its getting so bad. It used to be I had to strain to see Tent-City when I drove by, they were so deep in the woods. Not anymore, now their tents are set-up balibatish, maybe, 30 ft from Cedar Bridge. They’re taking all of us for a ride cuz they know we’re softees. Nuts !!

  27. to the problem says:
    December 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm
    If you would just read the letter before shooting off your comments you would see that the point is the homeless and the township is not keeping to what the judge made up AND THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!!!

  28. I was watching a clip on YouTube, there is a guy there (tent city) who lost his job, moved to tent city, now is working, states he is making $50,000+, and is refusing to leave? Really? Enough is enough! I fear for my family! We live 2 minutes away! The smell, the sights, the sounds iis tiring! This has got to go!! I will help pack this camp up! Time to evict!

  29. Some one suggested that the land used for buildings. Not 100% sure I but I think because of the wet lands just south of the camp, the land could be restricted use. Maybe some of it could be used but would require a buffer .

  30. To everyone pitching a fit over this: Thank you *so* much for volunteering to take one of the tent city residents into your home! The leg up you provide would be a very good first step toward getting these folks back on track toward a productive life. It’s so nice that you’ve decided to help!

  31. Driving by the camp on Saturday on the way to an appointment in Brick, I actually became alarmed by the amount of smoke in the air. I thought there had been another tent fire and then saw the smoke belching from what I took to be some kind of heater. This can’t be healthful for anyone in the vicinity. Surely the time has come to find a reasonable solution for this situation. It isn’t fair to anyone one — those who live in the “tent city” and those who live near it.

  32. How was this question not answered in this letter:


    Can’t the owner of the land just have them evicted for trespassing?

    Is there such thing as public un-owned property that you can just decide to claim and live on?

  33. I can’t believe the chutzpah of these “homeless” people. Who do they think they are to just encamp themselves somewhere and use the township services without any monetary compensation to the city.

    Can you imagine if we should start camping out and setting up shop at various locations in town or at different development sites. Wouldn’t we be kicked off pronto? What’s the difference?!!!!

  34. The board oc social services used to reccomend homeless people to go to tent city or Atlantic city rescue mission because they don’t have a dedicated shelter in ocean county.

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