Preserving Orangetown’s Quality Of Life
by Supervisor Andy Stewart
On May 12th I joined an overflowing crowd for an information session about organizing a Preserve Orangetown group, similar to the Preserve Ramapo group that has long fought against corruption in that town. It was inspiring, and extremely encouraging to see around 600 town residents filling the Pearl River Elks hall, determined to work together to preserve the things that are great about our community. This level of community engagement is critical to maintain.
I appreciated the remarks by Peter Bradley, Michael Parietti, and the other organizers who emphasized the importance of putting aside partisan differences and coming together on the issue that unites us all—preserving Orangetown and the quality of life that drew us all here to begin with! They’re right. This issue truly crosses party lines.
For instance, County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, has made it a priority to have the county crack down on illegal and unsafe multifamily housing (earlier this spring I met with Orangetown’s building department and staff from the county health department to help them coordinate on this effort), and root out Medicaid fraud, while Democrats Ellen Jaffee and Ken Zebrowski have led efforts in the State Assembly to get a monitor with veto power appointed to the East Ramapo School District and to have the state take over building inspections for Spring Valley and Ramapo since these municipalities have shown they can’t handle the responsibility.
Point being, it doesn’t matter what your party is, it matters where you stand on these issues.
Here in Orangetown, we found unanimous bipartisan agreement on the Town Board to pass an amendment to our existing solicitation ordinance that enacts a Do Not Knock Registry and significantly tightens penalties for anyone who violates the solicitation law. Though the five of us on the Town Board will continue to take all effective and legal steps we can to protect and improve our quality of life and keep this town a great place to live and raise a family, I firmly believe that we need more than government actions to preserve our town. We need people throughout the town getting involved, joining community groups, and reaching out to neighbors so that we keep our community strong. If you see something in your neighborhood, such as a home you suspect may have been illegally converted to multifamily use, or construction being done without a permit, let the town know so that we can investigate the situation and enforce our town codes.
Finally, because several people at the Preserve Orangetown meeting had questions about the Do Not Knock Registry, I wanted to include a version of the Q&A about this law that I sent to the town’s email list last month.
What is the Do Not Knock Registry?
For years Orangetown, like most municipalities, has required door to door solicitors engaged in for-profit business to obtain a permit from the Town Clerk (which includes a police background check). Now, all solicitors who get permits from the Town will be given a list of addresses that have enrolled on the Do Not Knock Registry and which they may not solicit at. Violators will face steep fines, which have been increased. Under the existing solicitation law, every violation of the law was punishable with up to a $1,000 fine. Now violators will face up to a $1,500 fine for a first offense, up to $3,500 for a second offense within 24 months, and up to a $10,000 fine or 30 days in jail for a third offense within the same time period. Violators will also have their solicitation permit revoked which would make it illegal for them to solicit at all and soliciting without a permit is a crime! The revisions to the solicitation law also clarified that solicitation means an offer to sell or buygoods or property. Previously, only offers to sell things was considered solicitation.
How can I sign up for the Do Not Knock Registry?
The best way to sign up is to stop by the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall and put your address on the list. You’ll also receive a free decal to display by your door which will alert solicitors that your home or business is on the Do Not Knock Registry. If you can’t make it to Town Hall during business hours, email Town Clerk Charlotte Madigan at email@example.com call the Clerk’s office at 359-5100 to find out additional ways to sign up.
If I sign up for the Registry, will the Town give out my name to solicitors?
No. Solicitors will be given a list of addresses that are on the registry and told that they may not approach those homes or businesses. The names of residents at those addresses will not be shared.
What should I do if a solicitor knocks on my door after I sign up for the Do Not Knock Registry?
If someone approaches your door in a way that makes you uncomfortable you should call the Orangetown Police at 359-3700 to report the incident. Any commercial solicitor should have a permit from the town clearly displayed. If you see someone acting inappropriately or soliciting without a permit, please contact the police and provide details of the incident. If you can safely do so, consider taking a picture of the individual or license plate of the individual you believe is violating the law. Remember—violators of this law can’t be charged unless the police know about the incident.
Will this keep missionaries from knocking on my door?
No it won’t. Individuals who are not engaging in any type of commercial transaction have never needed a permit from the Town to go door to door, so they are not impacted by this law. Courts have held that towns may not restrict door to door canvassing by missionaries or political candidates.
Will this make trick or treating illegal, or make it impossible for Girl Scouts and other local groups to raise money?
This law will not impact the activities of Girl Scouts or other local charitable groups. Under town law, individuals going door to door to raise money for a civic or social group (e.g. Girl Scouts, Elks Club, VFW posts) that has a location in Orangetown have never needed to get a solicitation permit, so they will not be impacted by this law. Only commercial, for-profit solicitors, are impacted. If you didn’t need a permit before, you aren’t impacted by this law.
What if I don’t want to be on the Do Not Knock Registry?
The Do Not Knock Registry is entirely voluntary. If you choose not to sign up for the Registry you will be unaffected by this law.
I have another question about this law, can you answer it?
Sure–you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org call me at 359-5100. You can also email Town Clerk Charlotte Madigan, whose office is in charge of implementing this law, at email@example.com or call her at 359-5100.
Editor’s Note: Here are links to ‘Preserve’ Social Media Facebook pages: