BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township is expected to require equipment improvements for some local businesses, while also modifying options regarding affordable housing in the municipality in the next few weeks.
The town council introduced a pair of ordinances related to those matters at its most recent public meeting May 18, which was again conducted online due to COIVID-19 concerns.
The first ordinance amends a chapter regarding sewers and sewage disposal, in creating a new section for grease traps. Council president Howard Norgalis said the ordinance had been rewritten no less than three times, with the assistance of Director of Municipal Services Thomas Genova.
The new measure is also sponsored by the Department of Public Works, as there have been a number of local sewer back-ups, including one in a basement.
“The problem seems to stem from some food establishments,” said Norgalis.
It was reasoned that grease traps will help prevent such back-ups, by keeping such substances on-site instead.
Township administrator Michael Pappas reiterated that the DPW has encountered those situations, and thanked Norgalis, Genova and municipal health officials for the ordinance. Pappas also said the ordinance will save the DPW “a considerable amount of work.”
Norgalis added that health officials will play a role, as grease traps range in size from small units to those able to hold hundreds of gallons. Those officials will also determine if certifications and related approvals are required.
“Hopefully they will save a lot of grief with the DPW and our residents,” said Norgalis of the proposed traps.
Councilman Timothy Ring said he “absolutely supported” the ordinance. He spoke of establishing a window for compliance, assuming the ordinance is approved at the next council meeting, but suggested that the clock for said compliance not actually start until businesses have re-opened, as many have been closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Norgalis thanked Ring for the comment, and said that the compliance period would be 180 days, as was outlined in the ordinance.
Council vice president Filipe Pedroso said he hopes administrators will provide some leeway to businesses, and demonstrate some flexibility in enforcement to provide “compassion with the current environment.”
The council also introduced an ordinance that will allocate responsibility for administrative agent fees incurred in the sale and resale of affordable housing units in the township. Pappas said the measure mimics those of other municipalities, with funding through affordable housing or a COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) trust fund that private property owners and developers will contribute to.
The township will pay a consultant for a housing rehabilitation program and meeting certain income parameters, along with eligibility matters and long-term loans.
According to the ordinance, for new sales and rental developments, the administrative agent’s fees will be paid by the owners of the affordable units for which the agent's services are required. There will be a 3 percent fee on resales, for property owners who transfer any affordable housing units, typically, four to six such units annually.
Those fees will be paid directly to the administrative agent.
“This program would cover (that),” said Pappas, who added that there has been a slowing of activity in this particular realm.
“It’s an important function for the township,” said Norgalis.
The public hearings for both ordinances are scheduled for the council meeting June 4, which will also be conducted online.
The five council members also unanimously ratified an ordinance that amends the town code for restricted parking in electric vehicle charging stations. Both the municipal building on Commons Way and the public library on Vogt Drive feature two such spots apiece.
It is legal for electric vehicles only to park at those stations, but only while they are being charged, and not afterwards.
Norgalis said the amendment give the charging stations ordinance “some teeth.”