Berkeley Heights Council Discusses Township's Deer Problem

January 9, 2013 at 7:05 AM

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The deer problem in the township was a topic of considerable discussion at the Tuesday, Jan. 8 Township Council meeting.

Councilman Edward Delia raised the issue at the request of the Environmental Commission.

“This is probably controversial,” he said. “The deer problem is being addressed by the  county. Sharp shooters are going onto county property and eliminating the deer. The Environment Commission is all for it because the deer are going into township parks and eating all of the little trees then (going onto residents’ properties) and eating all the pretty trees. I’ve never seen the deer issue addressed in Berkeley Heights. I think we have to ask the county (to help).”

Councilman Robert Woodruff said he thought that Morris County did this. “The charge is for the county to sponsor thinning of the deer herd on county property. If it wanders onto a residential property it would be a problem. Deer don’t know where they live.”

“Most live in the heavily wooded areas,” Delia said. “We have to ask the county to take the deer and put them to sleep on our property. They do it in Scotch Plains They do it all over the place. They’re in the Watchung Reservation.”

Mayor Joseph Bruno said he was concerned that Berkeley Heights parks might be too small and too close to homes for it to be safe, but he agreed to make the request to Union County.

Delia also raised the issue of future floods of the Passaic River, indicating it has to be addressed.

Council President Kevin Hall said he is “supportive of including a line item in the budget for brook clean up… not for the Passaic River.” He requested an estimate for the all-inclusive cost be prepared for the upcoming budget hearings. The first budget hearing will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

“We need a plan,” Bruno said. “We need to know the cost and what we’re going to accomplish.”

Delia came back to the Passaic saying he had requested the use of open space funds to clean the debris from the river last year.

Township Administrator Amey Upchurch was asked to look into getting a county open space grant for this.

Hall asked the council to consider reintroducing the snow ordinance, which prohibits parking on the road when the streets need to be plowed. The ordinance met a lot of opposition from the public last year and was tabled indefinitely.

“We were struggling with the nonspecific nature of the ordinance," he said. "The reality is the weather is unpredictable and transient. Weather can be severe and not necessarily warrant a state of emergency… We have to allow police discretion to determine the state of the roads… My opinion is that police will not use it to write tickets and tow people’s cars. How does the council feel?”

Councilmen Delia and Craig Pastore and Council Vice President Jeanne Kingsley all agreed with Hall, as did Bruno.

The ordinance will be reintroduced at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Berkeley Aquatics was also discussed. Woodruff said the council filed an incident to show cause in Union County, to put on hold the public referendum Berkeley Aquatics believes must take place.

The company, which will be located in Warren, wants to hook up to the Berkeley Heights sewer system. Although the township has a contract to provide services to Warren, the council believes it does not include commercial properties. Berkeley Aquatics filed an ordinance specifying its requirements, with the stipulation that a public referendum be held if the ordinance was not adopted. It wasn’t and the company is suing the council.

Woodruff said the council will likely hear the court’s ruling on its filing about the referendum by the end of the month, but that doesn’t mean the company’s suit will be discontinued. The township filed action because members believe there is no requirement for a referendum.

“The council took the position a referendum is not an appropriate action and we were acting consistent with the statute. It was not an appropriate situation where a referendum should be held,” Woodruff explained.

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