In the first regular meeting of the year, the Bloomfield Council amended two ordinances on first reading related to specific concerns, one pertaining to business hours and the other to land management.
The first amendment was to Chapter 159-9 of the Township Code, which specifies that certain types of retail establishments within 200 feet of a residential neighborhood shall not be open between 12 midnight and 6 a.m.
The list of designated types of retail stores in the original ordinance included those that “sell food,” without further detail. The amended ordinance adds a parenthetical explanation after the word “food” in the ordinance, spelling out that it includes “retail food establishments, restaurants, fast food, etc.”
This change was made, said Township Attorney Brian Aloia, to clarify the appropriate interpretation of the ordinance. A Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, which was recently approved by the Planning Board to move into a site on Belleville Avenue formerly occupied by a bank, had indicated the owner intended the store to be open 24 hours. Nearby neighbors had come to the December 15, 2014 council meeting to protest the proposed hours, citing the town’s ordinance. The attorney for Dunkin’ Donuts, who was present at that meeting, said that the ordinance did not pertain to Dunkin’ Donuts.
The amended ordinance passed unanimously on first reading.
The second ordinance made a change to the township’s sign ordinance (Chapter 315, 42-A of the Township Code) prohibiting digital signs from being erected by public, charitable or religious organizations. The current sign ordinance already prevents digital signs from being installed throughout the town, but previously exempted public, charitable or religious organizations from complying.
The ordinance was changed to remove the exemption in the code to ensure that no new moving digital signs would be erected in town. This change stemmed from the case of the Sacred Heart Church, which had applied to the Planning Board in March of 2014 to erect a digital sign that the pastor had already purchased. The church is located within the township’s Historic District, and the digital sign had been rejected by the Historic District Review Board prior to the application being brought to the Planning Board. The Planning Board rejected the application 4-3 after testimony by the church’s attorney and members of the Historic District Review Board, as well as Councilman Carlos Pomares. The church and their attorney came back to the Planning Board to request reconsideration in May. The Board then voted to allow them to come back with a revised application within six months. The church returned to the Planning Board in December 2014 with a new application placing the sign in a different location. It too failed to pass by a vote of 4-4.
The council had also considered erecting a digital sign, but the plan was later shelved. This amended ordinance would also prevent the town from erecting such a sign in the future.
The amended ordinance also passed on first reading.
Prior to voting on the ordinances, Councilman Joe Lopez raised a point of order, saying that the council had passed a resolution last year to only place items on the agenda that had been discussed in a conference meeting first. Mayor Venezia said that the two ordinances on the agenda were existing ordinances that were just being clarified and asked the rest of the council to vote on whether to include them. The vote was 6-1 to include the items on the agenda, with Lopez voting no.
At the beginning of the meeting, appointments were made to six boards or commissions. Appointees present in the audience stood and were sworn in. Appointments were as follows:
- Alan LaQuaglia (Chairman)
- William Fernandez
- Gregory Babula
- Paul Lasek
- Councilman Elias Chalet
- Mayor Michael Venezia
- Leo Sceurman (Alternate #1)
- Joseph Del Guidice (Alternate #3)
- Walter Davidson (Alternate #4)
- Rosemarie Vetrano
- Monette Judy Matthew
- Kathleen Hughes
Open Space Trust Fund Committee
- Shantilal Fernando
- Wendy Neill
- Jean Alvarez
- Councilman Nick Joanow
- Steven Coppola
- Joseph Testa – Recycling Coordinator
- Councilman Nick Joanow – Liaison
- Mark Stulbaum
- Oliver Young
Local Emergency Planning Council
- Frederick Menzel – Chairman/OEM Coordinator
- Full list of appointees can be found at this link.
Other ordinances passing on first reading included an ordinance amending the salary for the Executive Director of the Bloomfield Parking Authority and an ordinance amending the residency requirements for Special Police Officers. When hiring new officers, preference will be given in the following order: Retired Bloomfield Police officer; Bloomfield resident; Essex County resident; resident of contiguous county to Essex County; and lastly, elsewhere in the state.
The council also passed 16 consent resolutions, including one establishing a $15,000 stipend for Community Development Director Glenn Domenick for the additional duties he has taken on as Parking Authority Director. The council also approved a contract with Office Solutions, Inc., of Warren, NJ, for software and hardware service to the IT Department, and renewed Bob Duthaler’s contract with the town to continue managing the town’s local television station, WBMA.
The next meeting will be a conference meeting to be held on Monday, January 26, 2015, at 7 p.m. in the 2nd floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.