The Bloomfield council voted unanimously on Monday evening to enact legislation conforming to the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), which was discussed at the Candidates Forum held last Wednesday evening.
The next step will be for the ordinance to be placed on the agenda of the next regular council meeting to be voted on formally on first reading.
The council also unanimously agreed to suspend the ordinance requiring motorists from out of town who are involved in an accident in Bloomfield to pay a $100 fine (colloquially called a “crash tax”) for the services provided by the Township in relation to the incident. Chief Christopher Goul stated that the police force responds to such accidents about 60 times per month, or 720 times annually. Councilman Michael Venezia requested that Township Attorney Brian Aloia investigate whether there would be any legal ramifications in terms of fines already collected.
Finance Director Robert Renna provided the council with the 2012 audit report. Councilman Bernard Hamilton pointed out that, as has been the case in the past, there is a lot of repetition in the recommendations made by the auditor. Township Administrator Ted Ehrenburg stated that he would be following up on the recommendations and would work to address the issues that had been raised.
Hamilton also recommended that the Township provide charging stations for hybrid/electric vehicles in downtown Bloomfield, as has been done in South Orange and Montclair. The charging stations, once built, would provide a revenue source for the town, as well as attracting people from other areas to the train station and downtown area.
Councilman Nick Joanow and Mayor McCarthy once again clashed over the future of the former Scientific Glass property on Lion Gate Avenue, which is currently slated for a townhome development. Joanow had previously asked to postpone the award of a contract to build a Butterfly Park on the adjoining property that is owned by the town, citing an outside party interested in buying the Scientific Glass site from the developer in order to proceed with a plan to utilize both pieces of property. The interested party was asked to attend Monday’s council meeting, he said, but had a conflict and was unable to be there. Councilman Venezia confirmed there is an interested party and that he would attend the next conference session. Mayor McCarthy said the “rumor around town” is that the entity is the Glen Ridge Country Club, which neither Venezia or Joanow would confirm.
Councilwoman Peggy Dunigan advocated for additional police officers to be added to the roster, which currently stands at 124, according to Chief Goul. She pointed out that there were previously 135 officers on the force. Goul agreed that the force will be needing more officers as the various developments planned in town are completed. Work will begin on the 2014 budget in November, and Goul said that if the force were to increase in number, this would need to be included in the upcoming year’s budget.
During the public comment period, resident Pat Gilleran asked a number of questions pertaining to the animal shelter and the condition of elevators in Township buildings. Township Administrator Ehrenburg said that he had worked with the town’s IT Director to remove any obsolete information from the animal shelter website and they are working to update the forms. Gilleran questioned whether the volunteers need to be covered under the town’s insurance policy given that the previous form had required volunteers to sign a waiver releasing the Township of responsibility for any injuries.
In response to her questions about the status of the malfunctioning elevator in the Public Library, Township Engineer Paul Lasek said that parts were being fabricated for the elevator, since they are no longer being manufactured by the maker of the elevator. In addition, he said the elevator in the Law Enforcement Building, which had malfunctioned two weeks earlier, had been repaired but that they were looking into replacing it as it is at the end of its useful life.
The next meeting will be a regular meeting to be held at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. Tuesday, November 5, is Election Day so the meeting was postponed until after the election.