February 6, 2013 at 7:56 AM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Residents will have to keep an eye on the winter weather in the future. At the Tuesday, Feb. 5 Township Council meeting a new snow ordinance was adopted 5-1, with Councilman Thomas Pirone voting “no.”
Henceforth, when there is any accumulation of snow on the roads, residents will have to remove cars parked on the street or risk a fine of up to $50, being towed or both. The prospect of 15 days in jail is also an
option for the judge, though unlikely.
At a minimum, the ordinance will go into effect within 20 days. At the maximum, it will take as long as the traffic signs indicating the new law will take to arrive and be installed. Mayor Joseph Bruno said he planned to have them ordered on Wednesday.
The new law states “snow” means “any precipitation depositing an accumulation on the streets, indicating snow, sleet, hail, ice or freezing rain.”
“Accumulation” means “whenever snow has fallen and the accumulation is such that it covers the streets or highways” of the township.” Exactly how much snow, in inches, is not specified. It will be left up to the police officer on the scene to determine if conditions are hazardous.
Whenever there is a snow accumulation, residents will have up to one hour to move their cars.
The intent of the ordinance is to make the roads safe and allow snow plows to plow effectively without having to maneuver around parked vehicles.
Another ordinance, expanding the size of the Beautification Committee, was adopted unanimously. The committee will go from six to seven resident members plus two members of the governing body, for a total of nine members.
A salary ordinance was discussed and will be introduced at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The ordinance establishes minimum and maximum ranges for each township job.
There are two major changes:
Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley said, “We are doing our fire chief a huge disservice by paying him nothing when the surrounding municipalities are paying their chiefs.” She suggested the position should get a salary of $16,000 to $18,000 to be comparable. Currently, the position is volunteer.
Bruno responded, “I do know the responsibilities for reporting have grown immensely. He has to do the paperwork. It takes an enormous amount of time. The chief was going to retire for the past two years, but no one has stepped up. I don’t want to take advantage. I think he should be compensated. My recommendation would be to build (the compensation) over the years. I think we should start with something decent.”
Councilman Craig Pastore, who had just drafted the salary ordinance, said that Madison and Clark pay their fire chiefs. The range for Clark is $3,800-$7,000, he said. Madison, which has a full time fire chief, pays him the same as their police chief is paid. No specific dollar amount was mentioned.
The council decided to add the fire chief to the ordinance, but did not say at what rate he would start.
Bruno also wanted to raise the scale for the treasurer/CFO position. “I look at the CFO as the second most responsible person in the township. A bottom line of $30,000 is not enough.”
The council agreed the bottom of the pay scale for that position should be $60,000 with a max of $102,000.
The topic of a personnel manual, on the agenda for discussion, was tabled until the next meeting.
Commuter parking also generated some conversation, with Councilman Edward Delia noting, “The train parking is all the way down to the very end by the car wash. I wish we could get more people to park on this side (of the track).”
There was some discussion of discounting the $325 rate to less for people who would park in the lot on the south side of the tracks, but Bruno said, “We have oversold the lot by a few pecentages. I hate to sell more.”
Acting Clerk Ana Minkoff acknowledged, “We’re way oversold,” and the subject was dropped.
The mayor reported he met with the Chamber of Commerce and the organization will sponsor a street fair in the township during the late summer or early fall.
He said his campaign to get flags to line the streets in the downtown area for the weekend beginning on Nov. 8 (the first Berkeley Heights Day) through Veteran’s Day, Monday, Nov. 11, in honor of the township Vietnam War veterans, is going well. Both the chamber and the Rotary have each donated “sizable checks.” The total raised thus far from the two organizations is $1,000 toward the $5,000 goal, he said.
Kingsley noted the Beautification Committee is also discussing the project and is considering a permanent plaque that donor names could be listed on, including memorial donations. Members of the committee have started pricing flags.