Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project

The New Jersey Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project (“the Project”) seeks to get New Jersey municipalities to repeal loitering ordinances that should have been -- but were not -- repealed when the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice was enacted in 1979. The Project has successfully had loitering ordinances repealed in over 30 towns. For a summary listing of all the towns see Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project page.

During my research on pre-empted loitering ordinances I found that Somers Point repealed their invalid ordinance in 1991 - yet the police and courts are still enforcing this ordinance. Here is my letter to the Atlantic County Municipal Division Manager.


December 28, 2012

Tina Lalena, Municipal Division Manager
Atlantic County Superior Court
4997 Unami Blvd
Mays Landing, NJ 08330  (via e-mail only to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Dear Ms. Lalena:

From researching records of the Somers Point Municipal Court, I have discovered that the court, on April 17, 2012, accepted a guilty plea to a violation of a municipal code provision that the City repealed in 1991.

On May 8th, Allentown Borough enacted a loitering ordinance.

It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 years to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon or to remaining in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, public places and public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, church parking lots, places of business carried on for profit to which the public is invited, vacant lots or other public places, either on foot or in any vehicle within the confines of the Borough on every day of the week, provided that the provisions of this section shall not apply to a minor when accompanied by his parent, guardian or other adult person having custody, care and control of the minor, or in the event the minor is upon an emergency errant or legitimate business directed or consented to by his parent, guardian or other adult person having care and custody of the minor.

The New Jersey Libertarian Party opposes such laws on the grounds that they violate a citizen's right to peacefully assemble. In addition, in the state of NJ, such laws have been deemed illegal by the courts.

I've sent a letter to the Borough Council pointing out the illegality of their ordinance. The letter was also sent to the Borough Attorney.

In the event that Allentown Borough does not repeal this law, I wll personally assist anyone charged with this in fighting this violation of the civil liberties of our youth.

At its July 21, 2011 meeting, the Alloway Township Committee (Salem County) introduced an ordinance that will repeal the Township's loitering code. The repeal will be voted upon at the Township Committee's August 18, 2011 7 p.m. meeting at 49 South Greenwich Street. The repeal is being made in response to the New Jersey Libertarian Party's June 29, 2011 letter of request to Mayor Joseph F. Fedora.

For more information on the work of the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project see this web page.

At the request of the NJ Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, Brick Township has moved to repeal their illegal loitering ordinance. The Brick Patch quotes the Project's Chairman:

"The ordinances are clearly unenforceable, and they confuse people - including the police," Paff said, explaining that a person mistakenly arrested or ticketed for loitering could turn and sue the township. "The laws against loitering were so often abused or misunderstood. It used to be just too easy to pick on certain groups."

Read article at The Brick Patch.


Activists Joe Denise, Jay Edgar, Julian Heicklen, John Paff, and Nena Carroll loiter next to a "No Loitering" sign while protesting the abuse of Loitering Laws in Camden.

On election day several libertarian activists visited the city of Camden to protest the police use of the state loitering with intent laws.

The NJ Libertarian Party's battle against loitering laws started some time ago. In 1979 the state enacted a uniform code of criminal conduct. Prior to 1979 much criminal law in NJ consisted of a patchwork of municipal regulations. The 1979 law was intended to have uniformity in law across the state. The 1970 Uniform Code of Conduct specifically excluded loitering as a valid offense. In 1982 in the case of State V. Crawley the courts found that local loitering ordinances are indeed invalid. So sometime in 2007 we formed a committee to identify invalid local loitering and nuisance laws and to have them overturned.

Mostly due to the hard work of the chairman of the Preempted Ordinance Project, John Paff, we have had loitering ordinances overturned in 32 towns. Most often we accomplish this with a simple letter to the township attorney noting the illegality of their ordinance. (they can be read about at

njlp-logoNew Jersey Libertarian Party -- E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Contact: Party Chair, Jay Edgar at (848)525-0578

CAMDEN: On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, at 2 p.m., members of the New Jersey Libertarian Party will assemble at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden to urge citizens to oppose New Jersey’s drug and prostitution “loitering” laws.

At the Libertarian Party's request, the Township of Edgewater Park (Burlington County) repealed its "Disorderly Conduct" code. While not strictly a loitering code, the Disorderly Conduct code sought to prohibit conduct such as "us[ing] offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction."

The original ordinance, repeal ordinance and the LP's letter to the Mayor and Council are on-line at

As a result of a request from the NJ Libertarian Party Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project the township of Franklin (Sussex County) has repealed their loitering ordinance. Copies of the correspondence can be see here.

Washington Township (Warren County) has also announced that they will repeal their loitering ordinance. Lehigh Valley Live has covered it here.

A full listing of the success of the Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project is posted here.

FRENCHTOWN — An open government advocate thinks political favoritism could be behind the borough’s use of a defunct ordinance to reduce punishment for a man charged with shoplifting.

John Paff of Somerset, chair of the Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project, filed a state Open Public Records Act request June 21 for the release of Frenchtown Police Department records about the arrest of Bloomsbury resident Gennaro Mirabella, 41.

Read the full article...

Guttenberg is latest to repeal 'outdated' loitering and disorderly persons ordinances

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GUTTENBERG - Loiterers and loafers here are getting a break. The town recently repealed two ordinances - one for loitering and another for disorderly persons - that are considered out of date. Other towns with similar ordinances on the books are being asked to repeal them as well.

The two ordinances were tossed at the request of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, which has successfully had such ordinances removed in dozens of municipalities throughout the state.

Read the full story...

Wanaque amends its anti-loitering law

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Suburban Trends STAFF WRITER

Eleven years after the Supreme Court of the United States declared anti-loitering laws unconstitutional, the mayor and Borough Council on Feb. 9 adopted changes to the borough's anti-loitering ordinance to bring it into compliance with federal law.

Wanaque's repeal is "great," said John Paff, chairman of the Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project for the NJ Libertarian Party.

Read the full story...

Two more municipalities--Guttenberg (Hudson County) and Maplewood (Essex County) -- have repealed their loitering and similar ordinances at the request of the NJLP's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project. For the list of towns that have so far repealed their ordinances, see

At the request of the Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, the Borough of Wanaque (Passaic County) repealed the invalid portions of its "Peace and Good Order" Code on February 8, 2010. See

The city of Long Branch in Monmouth County, at the NJ Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project's request, repealed its loitering ordinance on January 26th.

Of note is that Long Branch made the news last year when they detained Bob Dylan for loitering.

On November 24, 2009, Westampton Township (Burlington County) repealed its loitering ordinance at the request of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project. See