Residents of Sherwood West claim that an overgrown property in their neighborhood is not only unsightly and overgrown, but is attracting rats, reeks of animal odors, and hasn’t been maintained in some time.
A blind item posted on the message boards of West Deptford Patch last Friday alleges that “there has been a strange odor around the neighborhood that has become significantly worse every year,” and has gotten unbearable in the summer humidity.
The post describes overgrowth of vegetation around the property spilling onto neighboring properties, “which cannot be cleaned up effectively because of the large amounts of poison ivy in it,” and claims that the interior of the home is “a 100% hoarding case,” with “urine and feces…just about everywhere you look.”
“The smell is so overpowering that some of us cannot enjoy our own backyards in fear of becoming sick,” the complaint reads.
Although “over 50 residents of Sherwood West have signed” a version of the same letter that was submitted to the township, the post reads, “so far we have got no where [sic].
“We call the Township, and they do not return our calls,” the poster alleges. “We go there in person, and they are not available to speak with us. This situation is getting out of control and needs to be addressed now, not later. If the Township doesn't care about our health, then maybe FOX News will.”
But Township administrator Eric Campo said that West Deptford got its first notice of a complaint from the neighborhood on Aug. 26, and was onsite within an hour.
Campo confirmed receipt of the same letter posted on West Deptford Patch—minus the threats to summon local media—from which the names of the property tenants had been redacted as well as the signatories.
He identified its location as an Ollerton Avenue residence, and provided several photographs of the property, taken last Monday, he said, where he met with two neighbors to discuss their concerns.
Shortly thereafter, Campo said, the township code enforcement officer and the Gloucester County Board of Health were both notified, and a mandatory inspection was scheduled.
“The allegations appear to have some merit, but we haven’t seen the inside of the house,” Campo told Patch.
He said that outward appearances seem to indicate that the back and sides of the property are most overgrown, which doesn’t necessarily indicate a violation, but is a starting point for code enforcement officials.
“The bigger issue,” Campo said, are the allegations “suggesting noxious fumes and people’s ability to enjoy their own homes and backyards.”
But Campo said that, far from ignoring the problem, the township has received the complaint and responded promptly.
He cited a 10-day legal window from issuance of the notices by township officials and the board of health, and indicated that an inspection would be forthcoming.
“We’ve been out there, [and] we’ll be out there,” Campo said.