As a councilwoman, I am elected to represent the residents of Berkeley Heights and to protect our township assets. Part of this responsibility includes the ability to negotiate contracts on behalf of the township. When the BAC asked the township to consider modifying it’s contract with the Warren Township Sewer Authority, myself and the other council members studied the contract, considered the long term growth capacity for the town, and performed a risk/reward analysis. Based upon all of these facts, 5 council members voted no to amending the existing contract.
The BAC was not satisfied with the decision reached by the Council and they sued the Township claiming that their decision was “arbitrary and capricious or unreasonable.” The NJ Superior Court ruled in favor of the Council and found that their decision to deny the resolution concerning the BAC was not arbitrary and capricious or unreasonable. The Judge further stated that since the Council’s decision was reasonable it must not be disturbed. Now the BAC is manipulating the legal system and forcing an election (at the BH taxpayer’s expense) to try and make the Township amend the contract between Berkeley Heights and the Warren Sewer Authority.
I cannot see any compelling reason why the residents would overturn the Council’s decision to not modify the agreement with the Warren Sewer Authority. In fact, there are compelling reasons not to modify the contract: 1) The tax ratable for the BAC goes 100% to Warren Township; 2) if we open up the contract to provide sewage treatment to this commercial enterprise, we will establish precedence and could be forced to modify our agreements with other neighboring towns – this could have a significant negative impact on our long-term sewage processing capacity; 3) if the flows from the BAC pool degrade the sewer plant there will be no recourse against the BAC for the cost to repair. The taxpayers of Berkeley Heights will bear the full cost; 4) the 51,000 sq. ft. facility will degrade the property values that neighbor it and this in turn is a detriment to the tax base of Berkeley Heights; and 5) the increase in traffic will put pressure on our police force and fire department and will create a significant increase in traffic for our residents on Emerson Lane and the surrounding area.
On May 7th, you have to opportunity to support the decisions reached by your elected officials and to show that you care about the citizens and long-term resources of Berkeley Heights and vote No.