A group of neighbors shared sordid stories of drugs, burglaries and prostitution with town council Monday and sought help dealing with a nuisance property.
The residents who got up to voice their concerns with the home on the unit block of Villa Avenue said the property—which is owned and managed by Mount Holly-based Twin Oaks Community Services—has been a problem for the past few years, but recently the troubles escalated.
One woman, who works from home, said she sees cars and people come and go day and night at the property, and suspects there’s drug activity and possibly prostitution going on.
She said a woman recently moved into the home—“I don’t know if she came from a mental institution or jail; that’s where they usually come from”—and another man, possibly her brother, and his girlfriend have also been frequently seen at the house.
Another neighbor, who lives nearby on South Lenola Road, claimed he caught the man living in the Villa Avenue home trying to break into his neighbor’s home just last week and helped the police track him down.
“Since the gentleman has moved in, townshipwide we have had a spike in burglaries,” the man said. “I know for a fact there’s drugs going on. The female that is there is also prostituting … I’ve even heard the one female arguing with one of her johns about the cost of straight-up sex and oral sex. She told him if he doesn’t like it, it’s $100; if he doesn’t like it, he can go to one of the prostitutes over on 73.
“I am fed up with this place,” he added. “I don’t feel comfortable with my wife and child (near the house).”
Township manager Scott Carew said he’d reached out to Sgt. Lee Lieber at the Moorestown Police Department recently after receiving complaints about the property, and Lieber had in turn contacted Twin Oaks. According to its website, Twin Oaks—the result of a merger between Family Service, which previously managed the property, and Steininger Behavioral Care Services—is “a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for vulnerable adults, children and families.”
A representative from Twin Oaks, in speaking to Lieber, “claimed ignorance on the problems,” according to Carew, “but also concern that they were happening. (Lieber) thought the concern was genuine.”
Carew said he and Lieber were trying to arrange a meeting with Twin Oaks “to really put their feet to the fire to make sure they’re managing this property correctly.”
This isn’t the first time residents have come to the township with complaints about the property, which has caused numerous headaches for its neighbors over the last three years.
“On any given day, the police or an ambulance are on our street,” Villa Avenue resident Scott Atkinson told Patch last year. He said the home has been inhabited by mentally challenged tenants who argue with each other, shout profanities and bang on neighbors’ doors asking for money and cigarettes.
Atkinson went before council again Monday and slammed Twin Oaks for its inability to properly manage the property.
“They’re impeding my ability to live peacefully on my block,” he said. “I can’t leave my windows unlocked. I can’t go to bed at night without the fear of somebody banging on my door at 2 o’clock in the morning … At some point, their lack of ability to take care of the people in their charge makes them irresponsible, and makes them not worthy of having this nonprofit status.”
Carew said the township’s first priority is dealing with the alleged criminal activity taking place at the property. Township solicitor Thomas Coleman said he would work with Carew to devise a plan for addressing the other concerns, as well as involving zoning officer Pete Clifford to figure out how to hold Twin Oaks more accountable.
The town council meeting occurred after business hours and Patch was unable to contact Twin Oaks for comment. Check back with Moorestown Patch later this week for a follow-up story.
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