A resolution to waive the residency requirement for Township Administrator Ted Ehrenburg for an additional year passed by a vote of 4-2 at last night’s Bloomfield council meeting; however, Mayor McCarthy said he plans to veto the resolution.
Ehrenburg, who was hired in December of 2012, was formerly the Borough Administrator for Bloomingdale, NJ. According to the Bloomfield Township charter, the Township Administrator “shall be chosen solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications…. At the time of his appointment, he need not be a resident of the Township or state, but during his term of office he may reside outside the Township only with the approval of the Council.”
Prior to the vote on the resolution, McCarthy said he believed “wholeheartedly” in the residency provisions in the charter, and would veto the measure if it passed. He pointed out that Yoshi Manale, the previous administrator, had moved into town during his tenure in the position. The Mayor and Councilman Bernard Hamilton voted against passage of the resolution, although initially Hamilton spoke in favor of allowing the waiver to take place, citing job performance as the key criterion for the position. Councilwoman Peggy Dunigan was absent.
In other business, a hearing was held regarding the status of the OOPS! Lounge on Watsessing Avenue, which was closed down after an incident on March 16, when a large group of people was seen congregating outside the bar by police officers. The attorney representing the bar owner, Tarr, Inc., defended the owner, explaining that the police were not called due to any specific incident, and that the owner had been holding a birthday party at the location at that time. He also said that violations that had been found when the police and fire officials inspected had been remedied by the owner. He referred to the bar as being on the “poor side of town,” and attracting people from that area, a description that backfired on him, as Councilman Carlos Bernard later stated that he lives in that area of town and was offended by the comment.
According to Bloomfield police and fire officials, 31 separate violations were found in the bar, including exit doors that only opened inward, electrical problems, a fetal alcohol sign covering the required posting of the establishment’s liquor license, and irregularities in the employee list. In addition, the bar was found to be over-capacity, with 112 customers found inside on the night in question.
The council agreed to give the owner of the bar time to complete the abatement of the violations that had been found, rather than to file formal charges at this time. The establishment will have to undergo another inspection, then obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, and then remain closed for an additional 30 days as a punitive measure. At that time a final inspection will be done before the bar is allowed to open again.
When asked about a sign on the bar advertising that the liquor license is for sale, the attorney confirmed that the owner was trying to sell both the premises and the liquor license, but that he wanted to reopen the establishment, as an ongoing business is much easier to sell.
During the public comment period, several people spoke in favor of the township allowing residents to keep a limited number of hens on their property, citing many benefits raising chickens can provide. A handout was provided to the council members that detailed the advantages to raising backyard hens, which included: higher quality, fresher eggs compared to supermarket eggs; natural pest control, since chickens eat insects; education of children regarding their food sources; and sustainability.
Also during the public comment period, mayoral candidate Russell Mollica spoke against waiving the residency requirement for the Township Administrator, and resident Ed Rosser urged the council to pass a resolution opposing an increase in pressure for a 50-year-old gas pipeline that runs through the town, referencing an opinion column on the subject published in the May 2nd Bloomfield Life by Bloomfield resident Jane Califf.
The next council meeting will be a conference meeting to be held on Monday, May 13, 2013, in the 2nd floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.