Inside Ocean County Government

Legal, Toms River

Former Toms River Mayor in Trouble For Code Violations

The Lightbody home

Has the home of former Toms River Mayor Roden Lightbody become a blight upon the community? 3 code violation summonses have been issued against Lightbody’s Sica Lane home for ongoing property maintenance issues.

Roden Lightbody

Roden Lightbody

Due to conflicts of interest among appointed lawyers and both Toms River Municipal Court Judges, the case has remained in limbo, now set to be heard at the end of July in Lakewood.

The Lightbody home

The Lightbody home

In response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, Ocean County Politics has obtained copies of summonses issued to Lightbody by Toms River Township Code Enforcement officials, in addition to memos and complaint forms completed on behalf of neighboring homeowners going as far back as 2004 about issues with the upkeep of the Sica Lane home.

Code Enforcement: Lightbody Cited For “Hoarding,” Debris and Unregistered Vehicles In Yard

Mr. Lightbody was cited for having two unregistered vehicles on the property, failure to maintain the property, and failure to maintain the exterior of the structure, all in violation of the Toms River Township Municipal Code.

In last year’s local campaign, one neighbor of Lightbody’s even told political opponents of the Toms River GOP about the Lightbody home’s issues due to the former mayor’s connection to current Toms River Council President Brian Kubiel, but it never seemed to be publicized until now.

Sources within the Toms River Republican Club said that some GOP heavyweights in town were less than thrilled with the prospect of Lightbody receiving summonses for the alleged code violations, but three of them were finally issued on April 11th, 2016. The township’s municipal prosecutor, Steven Zabarsky of the firm Holzapfel, Citta and Zabarsky could not handle the case either, due to the fact that Zabarsky is a Republican Club officer.

The 3 summonses issued

The 3 summonses issued

Light body home aerial view

A satellite view of the property.

A satellite view of the property shows numerous objects and debris scattered about the front and back yards of the home. Public records revealed an ongoing back-and-forth between Roden Lightbody and township code enforcement officials since 2013, while neighbors have continued to complain about the condition of his home.

In 2013, Lightbody received multiple violation notices, and was given several extensions to comply to avoid the issuance of a summons. The issues still persisted despite multiple encounters with code enforcement personnel.

Another 2013 code enforcement complaint regarding an alleged instance of hoarding at the property said that the anonymous complainant said “He [Lightbody]  gets away with it” and made note that they threatened to go to an unspecified newspaper if the issue was not resolved. The report made by code enforcement said that they found “trash, debri [sic], cans, bottles incl. fallen trees / branches” in the yard along with unregistered vehicles. For that, Lightbody was issued a formal written notice.

Photos taken by code enforcement officers of the property even showed Tom Kelaher for Mayor team campaign signs strewn about the yard on the ground, well after election season.

Timeline Of Lightbody’s Code Violations:

  • On May 5th, 2014, Lightbody neighbor Robert Pitts made a complaint with code enforcement regarding debris on the former mayor’s Sica Lane property. Again, Lightbody received a formal written notice after the allegations were investigated the next day and found to be present on the property. Code enforcement reports indicated that code inspector discussed a “plan of action” with Lightbody purportedly set to begin disposing of the debris from the yard, with a followup scheduled for 30 days. The report further noted that Lightbody did not follow up and lease a storage unit to hold the items from the front yard.
  • In February of 2015, a report authored by “J.C.” noted that “Based upon efforts made pursuant to this NOV [notice of violation] dated 5/7/14 and ongoing monitoring, to include the fact that there have been no further complaints since the initial. As per discussion between J.W. and J.C. this will be closed out at this time. Re-open if further complains received.”
  • On March 26th, 2015 code violations related to property maintenance  and using the outside of the property for storage were found by code officials and Lightbody was issued a final notice to submit a plan to abate the violations.
  • On May 19th, 2015 an anonymous neighbor made a report to code enforcement, again complaining about property maintenance issues on the Lightbody house. Code enforcement officials noted “hoarding” as the nature of this particular complaint.
  • On April 7th, 2016 . Code Enforcement Department officers arrived at the home the next day, and noted findings of “excessive rubbish” on the property, in addition to the maintenance and vehicle issues.

Case Transferred To Lakewood Municipal Court

The case had to be transferred out of Toms River due to conflicts of interest between the Toms River township attorney and both of the municipal court judges. Originally, it was transferred from Toms River to Manchester, but since Manchester has a contract with none other than former Toms River Council President turned Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, he couldn’t prosecute the case either. That additional conflict saw the matter transferred to Lakewood.

A representative of the Lakewood Municipal Court clerk’s office confirmed Thursday afternoon that the matter is currently scheduled to be heard during the 9:30 AM court session on July 25th, 2016, after previously having been granted several adjournments.

See The Documents:

OCP Poll:

Did political interference delay code violation charges on the former mayor's home?

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