Crews Battling Wildfire Along Mullica River in South Jersey’s Wharton State Forest

openwoods

New Member
Apr 22, 2013
10
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I walked back West Mill Road this past Fall (late November) just to see what was going on back there on the public owned property. I deer hunted back there for 20 years before the owner of Paradise Lake blocked the road with a gate. Once I got around 2 miles in on West Mill Road there were vehicles using the road. They were accessing West Mill Road from the last dam on Paradise Lake. I assumed the owner of Paradise Lake was letting a few people cross the last dam. The vehicles using West Mill Road were going back there to bait deer. I found several drive in piles (truckload of sweet potatoes driven into the woods) dumped along West Mill Road. So essentially the owner of Paradise Lake has his own private hunting area for himself and a few others. Maybe he is charging them who knows? I haven't hunted back there since the road was blocked however. The whole situation stinks.
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
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I wonder what the ramifications would be upon removing a gate put up by a person who does not own the road or surrounding property but who would care and a city that owns the road but obviously has no interest in it whatsoever and a state forest admin that looks the other way and obviously doesn't care about the situation either.Who would prosecute over the removal of a private gate on land that the person does not own?
 
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stiltzkin

Scout
Feb 8, 2022
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Medford
I wonder what the ramifications would be upon removing a gate put up by a person who does not own the road or surrounding property but who would care and a city that owns the road but obviously has no interest in it whatsoever and a state forest admin that looks the other way and obviously doesn't care about the situation either.Who would prosecute over the removal of a private gate on land that the person does not own?
I don't think I would want to find out. It sounds like a good way to get sued for theft/property damage by the person who put it up. If there's going to be a lawsuit, that would not be the best way to start out.

The one that springs to mind would rather put gates up everywhere if they had their way.
That is unfortunate. I don't really understand why we cannot strike a balance between public access and conservation.
 

Teegate

Administrator
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Sep 17, 2002
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He has a legal right to close it so don't mess with the gate. What is needed would be the residents of Hammonton to get their officials to open it up. Unfortunately, nobody really cares there as they most likely don't even know about it.
 

stiltzkin

Scout
Feb 8, 2022
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Medford
I'm certainly not a lawyer. But the issuance of that document from the township is what needs to be targeted. Why was it issued in the first place - what factors were considered in its issuance, if any? Was the effect of restricting public access even considered at all? What legitimate interest does the party who was issued the document have in specifically restricting motor vehicle traffic on that road? Was there any opportunity for public comment on this decision? How was it determined, in the wording of the license agreement, that the road is "not needed for public purposes?" Further, how was it determined that the road is the "main access" to the business of the applicant? What about the precedent set here by allowing someone to close off a public road, which is not on their property, by simply paying the township a sum of money?

If you're affected by this and are a Hammonton resident I would encourage asking these kinds of questions at a town council meeting. If they're not responsive then someone with a legal background would need to ask them in a courtroom.
 
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Teegate

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You are over thinking this. They are all buddies with each other and can do whatever they want. Unless there is a public outcry from the residents things will never change. No public comment or legitimate interests is needed. It just happens.
 
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stiltzkin

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Feb 8, 2022
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You are over thinking this. They are all buddies with each other and can do whatever they want. Unless there is a public outcry from the residents things will never change. No public comment or legitimate interests is needed. It just happens.

That is what I'm saying though. We agree. The answer to those questions is likely "no." There was no legitimate consideration given, and the pretenses were false.

Therefore, make a public outcry. Bring it up in public and put them on the record on it. Or conclusively demonstrate it to a judge. The former is a lot less money and effort than the latter though.
 

Wildland937

Scout
Aug 24, 2016
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New Germany
Thanks, yeah I read through some old threads on here today regarding the situation with that gate and marked some waypoints that were mentioned. That's infuriating. I assume the state never pressed the issue and nobody brought a lawsuit over it, so it's still just status quo from ~2017? What a shame.
There is nothing to be done. The town owns the road and the cg owner has lease rights to it. End of story...
 

bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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Yeah, I had read up on some of the history in previous threads. It was very frustrating to read through. It seems like what's needed is a legal review, maybe from a nonprofit with the right resources (if such a thing exists) or ideally an individual lawyer with a passion for public access and/or the local area.

The other option would be to just keep bothering the state about it until they provide at least some kind of response. At least in my mind, if multiple people are calling and/or writing letters about this, it may get more momentum than a petition.
Yes, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease. But that petition should have carried a lot of weight. An update is certainly warranted.
 

Teegate

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In reality the state really should plow another road. They did it once there they can do it again. Until they own the campground there will always be concerns.
 

stiltzkin

Scout
Feb 8, 2022
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Medford
If they plow a new road, couldn't the same exact thing happen again? The new road would be within the township limits as well. They could just revise the licensing agreement to cover the new road, and he could put up yet another gate.
 

Teegate

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The license if for that road. If you plow another road...no license. However, the state will have to maintain it.
 

stiltzkin

Scout
Feb 8, 2022
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114
Medford
So they'll just issue a new license for the new road. As you said a few posts above, they are all buddies and can do whatever they want. I could see this happening again.

If he's very determined to keep people from going back there and the township is happy to collect his $5000 again, it seems like it would just repeat.
 

Teegate

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Going from memory ...the township of Hammonton maintained Paradise Road and when the owner of the campground put the gate along 206 the state took him to court and proved the section from the current gate to 206 was not Paradise Road. He was forced to move the gate to it's current location. This tells us that his license effects only Paradise Road. So...if the state plows another road it will not be Paradise Road and the license will not be valid on the new road. Now, the question is, since this new road would most likely have to cross Paradise Road just before the curve at the cedar swamp, would he be able to block the intersection at that point???????????
 
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Wildland937

Scout
Aug 24, 2016
49
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New Germany
In reality the state really should plow another road. They did it once there they can do it again. Until they own the campground there will always be concerns.
From what I understand is, the state has full access for whatever reason they may need any place anytime. Like for this wildfire...
 
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