Officials and Residents Congratulate Berkeley Heights Mayor David Cohen; Council Approves Administrative Code Over the Objections of the Berkeley Heights Police Department; Woodruff, Miller or Ronner to Be Interim Mayor

2f2f70548d4ade14674a_255006_ts2.jpg
Councilwoman Elaine Perna congratulates Mayor Cohen
33be55d9838604879509_255005_ts2.jpg
Mary Schaenen, and the Piersons receive a proclamation stating that March is Red Cross Month in Berkeley Heights
054ff074be92f79b3a07_255004_ts2.jpg
State Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz congratulate Mayor Cohen
a0c43a9b6b82e961e840_255003_ts2.jpg
State Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz congratulate Mayor Cohen
f8d2717d529a7efecc98_255002_ts2.jpg
State Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz congratulate Mayor Cohen
69bc749d8a3d7d6de6ba_255001_ts2.jpg
State Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz congratulate Mayor Cohen
2f2f70548d4ade14674a_255006_ts2.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - At Tuesday night's meeting of the Berkeley Heights Township Council, government officials and residents praised Mayor Cohen and wished him well in his new position as Director of the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. In addition, on a 4-1 vote, the Council approved an Administrative Code for the Township of Berkeley Heights but not before both the President of PBA Local 144 and Berkeley Heights Police Chief David Zager, as well as several residents, rose to oppose the creation of a Department of Public Safety as designated in the Code. The Council also voted 4-1 to introduce an ordinance providing penalties for the use of phosphate fertilizer. Finally, Republican Chairman David Ronner has offered the names of three candidates to the Township Council to serve as Interim Mayor: Robert Woodruff, Robert Miller and Ronner himself. The Council will vote on the candidates at an upcoming meeting.

Serving as Mayor at a Council meeting for the last time, Mayor David Cohen was recognized for his lengthy service to the Township of Berkeley Heights. Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz praised the Mayor and thanked him for his "years of work on behalf of the residents of Berkeley Heights." Later, Councilwoman Elaine Perna read a proclamation providing the Mayor's long record of public service and thanking him for serving the community.

The Council next tackled the Administrative Code. William Ives, President of PBA Local 144, said that the Code's creation of a Department of Public Safety is not necessary. He said that under the Code, there will be a position of Police Director who is over the Police Chief and could be a civilian without appropriate training. He noted that a Police Director's powers are strictly limited, including that the Director cannot operate a police vehicle. Ives stated, "having the position in the Code doesn't prevent the appointment of politically connected people" to the position of Director and having no Chief of Police. He asked the Council to remove the director position from the Code.

Berkeley Heights Police Chief David Zager addressed the Council. He said that there are several issues with the Code including that the testing requirements to become a Sergeant under the Code are not the current way that Sergeants are promoted by the Department. He said that the promotion of captains and the Chief are not discussed in the Code. Moreover, Zager said that more work needs to be done on the Code regarding the structure of the police department. He recommended the Council pull this portion of the code "until we have the opportunity to work together" and the Chief has an opportunity to do a presentation for the Council regarding the restructuring. "Don't fix what's not broken," said Chief Zager. "We have an outstanding police department. We have qualified individuals. Working together, the Department and the governing body can accomplish what we need to accomplish," he said.

Resident Tom Foregger asked several questions regarding the Director position and said, "I don't like to see you creating positions you don't intend to fill."

Resident Steven Faulk, a retired teacher, said that the Director position is "unnecessary" and "could undermine the integrity of the operation of the police department." "We don't need something added on that will increase the cost of living in Berkeley Heights," he added. "We don't need an infusion of non-expert personnel supervising professionals," he concluded.

Councilwoman Perna moved for adoption of the Code and Councilman Bruno seconded her motion.

Councilman Bruno said that he could not see the Chief of Police not being the Director but could see if the Chief retired that a Director could be appointed to help the new Chief. However, Bruno said the Director would not be a civilian. He added, "I'm not looking to put on one extra body we don't need." Councilman Hall said that "the logical default position" is that the Chief is the Director. However, he said he could envision scenarios that may require a Director. "I don't feel this changes the function of the police department at all," Hall said. "The Chief is the Chief Executive Officer of the Police Department," he added.

Mayor Cohen said he was surprised to hear these comments from Chief Zager because he and the Council had not received any comments from him in the six weeks since the Code was first proposed. Cohen added that the Chief also did not make any presentation to the Public Safety Committee regarding his concerns.

Councilman Nelson said that, "I firmly believe the reason the [director] position is there is ultimately to fill it." He said that the Mayor can be the appropriate authority for the Police Department but "we don't need a director…"

Councilman Pastore said that the Director position will be filled by the Chief. Councilwoman Perna agreed and said, "there is no plan in my mind to hire a separate director for the department." She continued, "to usurp the authority of the Police Chief where the department functions as it should would be ridiculous."

Perna said she was also confused about the argument made by several regarding the cost of a Director. She asked where was the police's concern about cost containment when a captain was exiled to the County for a year at a cost of $130,000. "Not one [officer] came up to talk about it," she said.

The Council then voted 4-1 to approve the Code as is.

The next item addressed is a fertilizer ordinance. The Council voted 4-1 to introduce it. Councilman Nelson said he feels the fines are excessive and asked the Council to minimize them. Councilman Hall countered that a $100 fine for third violation is reasonable. Councilwoman Perna added that it is State mandated for the Township to have a fertilizer ordinance and that the State could pull the Township's stormwater permit if it does not have one which would be "very detrimental to the town."

In their Council reports, Councilman Hall said that he will be introducing an ordinance to formally start the process to address inconsistencies between the Township's Master plan and the Township's ordinances. Councilman Pastore requested and received permission to start a committee to change the Township's website.

Councilman Bruno announced that he took his name out of consideration to be Interim Mayor. "I will remain as Council President," he said. He then read a letter from Republican Chairman David Ronner, which stated that the three candidates for Interim Mayor are Robert Woodruff, Robert Miller, and David Ronner. The Council will vote at an upcoming meeting to decide the winner from these three nominees.

Near the end of the meeting, Mayor David Cohen gave some final remarks. He said that Tuesday night's meeting was almost twelve years to the day that he first took out petitions to run for office. He called his time in public service "a great run" and spoke about the significant new ratables in Berkeley Heights including Summit Medical Group. He also said that there have been improvements in almost every department under his tenure, as well.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Union County Magnet High School to Hold Silent Auction

February 21, 2018

A great night out with family and friends for just $10.  And we provide dessert and coffee/tea.

Please come to the Magnet High School PSA Silent Auction on Friday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Union County Vocational Technical School in Scotch Plains (West Hall Cafeteria). 

Tickets are only $10. You can then bid on over $12,000 worth of ...

2018 LGBTQ Roundtable Comes to Hamilton Stage in Rahway

Union County Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados and Freeholders Bruce H. Bergen and Alexander Mirabella welcomed Christian Fuscarino of Garden State Equality to the 2018 LGBTQ Roundtable meeting hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders at the Hamilton Stage in Rahway.

They were joined by Union County Department of Human Services Director Debbie-Ann Anderson, Union County ...

Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Rotary Club will host their first Pancake Breakfast at the newly renovated Scotch Hills Country Club in Scotch Plains. The event will take place on Sunday, March 25, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and the price will be $10 per person. Pancakes, eggs, ham, turkey sausage, coffee, tea, and juice will be served and there will be prize ...

Are you bored with "healthy eating?" THE MAX Challenge to the rescue!

ARE YOU BORED WITH THE SAME HEALTHY RECIPES?

https://www.themaxchallenge.com/locations/new-providence-nj/

THE BEST PART OF BEING A MEMBER AT THE MAX CHALLENGE OF NEW PROVIDENCE IS THAT WE MAKE HEALTHY EATING INTERESTING WITH NEW HEALTHY RECIPES.

Don't let the same boring routine and nutrition get in the way of your healthy lifestyle.  Let THE MAX Challenge of New ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21, 2:00 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

The Underground Railroad Documentary

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 6:00 PM

UCEDC, Cranford

Next Level Business Planning

Business & Finance

Fri, February 23

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Carousel_image_b59229b3972266545812_magnet_fundraising_auction_2018_flyer_0219

Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...