A letter to the editor by Anna Evans of Hainesport, NJ
Authorities should be able to act swiftly when laws are broken, to uphold justice and redress the balance in favor of those who have been wronged. Unfortunately, this ideal is far from being realized in Burlington County today.
Here’s a case in point. In December 2017, Hainesport resident Thomas Huelster purchased the property located at Block 106.01 Lots 10.00-10.04 as a rental property/investment, proceeding despite being aware that his neighbor, Republican Assemblyman Ryan Peters (LD8), had built a vinyl fence which intruded on Block 106.01 Lot 10. Huelster thought that, since the legal boundaries were clear on the survey, it would be no problem to get Peters to move the fence.
According to Huelster, Peters built the fence in or around 2015, when the property was owned by an elderly widow. At that time the border between Peters’ backyard and Lot 10 was marked by trees at the bottom of the lot. Peters arranged to have the trees removed, but then built the fence where the trees had ended, rather than where his property did. At its maximum point, the fence is over twenty-three feet into Lot 10. (If you compare the two surveys and the google earth screenshot, it is clear that the fence was built in order to increase the amount of land past Peters’ in-ground pool). Peters has claimed he had a verbal agreement with the old lady; however, nothing was put in writing. After the widow died, her sons sold the property as shown on the survey to Huelster.
Almost two years after the sale, Peters has still not moved the fence. Huelster recently took his petition to Hainesport Township to ask for their help—in addition to the annexation of Lot 10, Peters had not obtained a permit to erect the fence. The Republican-run township says that due process is being followed and that they are meeting with Peters soon over the permit, but it is unclear if they have the means to force Peters to move the fence. Huelster fears his only option for that will be to take Peters to court, which he is reluctant to since Peters is a lawyer by training and is “politically connected.”
The legal case seems clear-cut, yet Huelster believes that if he takes Peters to court, the Assemblyman will slow walk the process.
Huelster is simply frustrated. “I just want Peters to move the fence off my property,” he says.
This story represents more, though, than just a boundary dispute between neighbors. It illustrates how the law is currently failing a majority of Americans: the local ordinance is toothless, and the courts are slow and difficult for lay people to navigate.
The greatest failure, however, is when our elected officials who we rely on to represent our best interests, turn out to be using the law for their own personal benefit, instead of their constituents and the community. Ryan Peters is up for re-election on November 5th. Send a message, and don’t vote for legislators who don’t follow the law.