WEST ORANGE, NJ - Several West Orange residents and organization officials turned out to voice their opposition to the passage of Ordinance 2419-14, passed 2-1-2 by the Township Council on Sept. 13.
As first reported in TAP into West Orange, Council President Susan McCartney and Councilwoman Patty Spango voted in favor of the ordinance while Councilman Joe Krakoviak voted no and councilmen Victor Cirilo and Jerry Guarino abstained. The adopted ordinance states "No person shall feed any wildlife, excluding confined wildlife, anywhere within the Township."
The ordinance was passed after West Orange Health Officer Theresa DeNova petitioned the council for "authority to enforce the ordinance" in an attempt to address the feral cat issue in town. From 2010-2013 the Department of Health has fielded over 430 complaints in at least six neighborhoods and impounded 517 feral cats. From January to June of 2014, 68 complaints were filed and 81 feral cats were impounded.
DeNova wanted an ordinance to have a legal mechanism to fine residents who were indiscriminately feeding feral cats, drawing them into West Orange neighborhoods, and not caring for them.
West Orange residents Kevin and Sally Malanga, along with other community members, advocated for a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) approach to the issue, citing figures that it was the most successful way to address the feral cat population.
Kevin Malanga called the ordinance a "cat killing scheme."
The township currently waits seven days before after capturing cats so that owners may retrieve animals or adoption events can be held to prevent euthanization of potentially adoptable ferals, who have an expected life span of two years in the wild.
A representative from "No Kill New York" threatened the possibility of a lawsuit and encouraged residents to contact her if they were interested in suing the township.
Council President McCartney reiterated that she voted for the ordinance based on the Health Officer's "urgent" concerns, and reminded the public that she also said that she wanted the township to collect more information, look into grants and other options like TNR, and move forward with the issue.
In other news, Surrogate Judge Theodore Stephens stopped by to announce that the County would be opening a satellite Surrogate Office at Codey Arena in early 2015. The Surrogate Court addresses issues of probate, estates, wills, trusts, and adoptions, to name a few, and told the public that October was National Estate Planning Awareness Month, encouraging residents to address their potential Power of Attorney issues regarding online passwords.
During public comment, some residents objected to email comments made by Councilwoman McCartney who questioned why a council candidate forum was scheduled on a Jewish holiday preventing one of the candidates from attending. The forum was rescheduled for Oct. 23 at Washington Elementary School beginning at 7:00, and all council candidates will be attending.