Police & Fire

Town of Newton Adopts Outdoor Water Ban Resolution at Council Meeting

The reservoir on August 22, when water was 20-inches below the spillway. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Jessica Caldwell, the town's planner, discusses the tree bank ordinance. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Kent Hardmeyer of the town's shade tree commission speaks in favor of the tree bank ordinance. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller


NEWTON, NJ – The Town of Newton Town Council adopted a special resolution at the Wednesday, September 12 meeting, initiating an outdoor water ban for residential and commercial use, as well as a request to all water customers to conserve water indoors.

“We are banning outdoor water usage, we are 27-inches below the spillway, we thought it was important to put the ban in place,” said Debra Millikin, Town of Newton Deputy Town Manager.

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Click here for the town’s official press release, issued today. 

The Alternative Press toured the Town of Newton Morris Lake Water treatment plant in Sparta with Millikin on August 22, a day following the town’s issue of a drought alert (click here for story).

On August 21, the water level was 20-inches below the spillway.

On August 24, the water level was 22-inches below the spillway.

On August 27, the water level dropped further to 23-inches below the top of the spillway.

On September 3, the water level was 25-inches below the spillway’s top.

Deputy Mayor Joseph Ricciardo asked Millikin if since the drought alert, the consumption has declined.

“It’s not drastically high,” said Millikin.

She explained some businesses, such as Newton Medical Center, and Bristol Glen, use water in their cooling systems, which due to the higher temperatures, the facilities required more cooling.

“It’s typical consumption, and people have been watering their lawns more,” said Millikin.

Millikin also said the Newton was unable to connect with Sparta on a water project over the summer, because their municipality was also taxed, due to the demands of the summer peak. The wells in Sparta Township, like Morris Lake, have also been lower, while Newton had experienced higher rainfall than Sparta Township.

As part of the ban, the town has mandated Newton water customers are prohibited from watering their lawns; washing their vehicles, driveways, walkways or sidewalks; filling swimming pools, fountains, and ponds; and residents also forbidden from watering outdoor vegetable or flower gardens.

The Town of Newton Police Department, and Town Manager, will enforce the ban.

“It’s going to be up to the chief if we’re going straight to summonses, instead of warnings. We are not a heavy-handed community, we often give a warning before we actually issue a summons,” said Thomas S. Russo, Jr., Town of Newton Town Manager.

The last water ban for the community was in 1998, and 1999.

Millikin said once the ban is lifted, another resolution would be created to officially end it.

In other business:

·      The town council discussed a proposed tree bank ordinance, with planner Jessica Caldwell leading the discussion. For the ordinance, developers would either be required to replace trees, or deposit funds into a tree bank, monies from where the town would be able to replace trees in another area of town. The fee considered would be $50 per-inch per 8-inch caliper tree. Caldwell looked at resolutions for two other New Jersey communities, Randolph and Jackson Townships. She said Randolph did not have a tree bank, and Jackson had costs beginning at $200 for a six to 12-inch tree, ranging to $800 for a tree greater than 24-inches. Council members, including Ricciardo, were concerned the ordinance may create overregulation. “You can’t tell me I can’t cut down a tree on my own property,” said Ricciardo. “I really don’t like it, and people have lived here, and there hasn’t been a need for a tree bank,” said councilman Daniel Flynn. “People have hired landscape architects.” Flynn was also concerned parties may reduce the appearance of tree sizes during surveys. “Who’s going to go out and measure all these trees?” he asked.  He suggested different ordinances between residential and commercial properties. “You’re going to have difficulty upholding this ordinance if there is a difference between residential and commercial properties,” he said. “When I see aerial shots of Newton, I am surprised to see how well wooded it is, we’ve lived here a long time without regulation,” said councilman E. Kevin Elvidge. “I don’t sense abuse in the regulation of trees. We need to take what we have, use the same footprint, and redevelop it. What we love in development, we can put back in the planning process.” Kent Hardmeyer of the shade tree commission said, “Trees are our friends, they don’t ask much, and they provide a lot of service. What people appreciate in Newton is the fine old shade trees. I hope you’ll keep the tree bank in your provisions.”

·      Russo said the town would have three upcoming meeting to present the Vision Plan Update. The first is scheduled for Thursday, October 25 at 7pm. The second is Saturday, October 27 at 9am, and the third, at town council meeting on Monday, November 26 (the meeting will commence at 6p.m., instead of the 7p.m. start time).

·      Flynn complimented the 11th Annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at Sussex County Community College, on Sunday, September 9 (click here for the story by The Alternative Press). “It was a well-run event, with a good presence by the Newton Police and Fire Departments,” Flynn said.

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