BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ A proposal for a shared municipal court system with Bernards Township and other Somerset Hills towns is on Tuesday's "virtual" Bernards Township Committee meeting, which has again moved to an 8 p.m. start time. [Update: The meeting at which the ordinance was scheduled to come up was canceled on Tuesday, and has not yet been rescheduled.]

The Bernards Township website, bernards.org, was also down prior to the scheduled meeting.

The Bernards Township Committee first showed interest in the proposal in March 2019, after Bernards hired Judge Katherine Howes as the township's new municipal court judge. Howes also is the municipal court judge in nearby Bedminster, which already shares its court system with the other Somerset Hills communities of Bernardsville and Peapack/Gladstone.

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Officials had been seeking to help save municipal court costs by signing a shared agreement with Bedminister and the other towns. The shared court is hosted in Bedminster, but each court operates separately, according to information in the proposed shared services agreement posted online.

Nevertheless, the participants failed to reach an agreement after several months of talks, Bernards Township officials announced last November. At that time, officials said that the township's negotiators would widen its search to other neighboring municipalities _ but at the same time, the door would be left open to join the court system in Bedminster.

Talks resumed with other Somerset Hills towns this spring

Then, at the last virtual Township Committee in late April, Township Administrator Pat Monaco said that Bernards Township officials would resume discussions with Bedminster Township to see if a deal can be worked out to share the municipal court services based in that township. 

Virtual meeting can be seen online or on television

The meeting is again planned to be held via Zoom video conferencing, and to be televised and streamed live online. The public can submit comments or questions on agenda topics to municipalclerk@bernards.org.

The meeting, which will display Zoom views of Township Committee members and officials, is set to be televised on Optimum/Cablevision channel 15, Verizon FiOS channel 35, and to be livestreamed on the Bernards Township website.