Government

Bridgewater Fencing Ordinance Tabled Following Discussion on Proposed Regulations

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The issue of privacy fencing for residential homes in Bridgewater will have to be heard another day because the town council voted unanimously Sept. 28 to table a proposed ordinance for the time being.

Bridgewater resident Wes Mersinger spoke spoke before the council, and said his family cannot take advantage of privacy fencing because their home rests on a small-sized lot. He also said that there is an unsightly drainage ditch in the back of his property that he would like to have fenced in. 

Mersinger said he has worked with township administrator James Naples on the matter, and added that he would like to have the law changed.

Sign Up for E-News

“It’s really more of a cosmetic decision,” Mersinger said. “We should have more flexibility.”

The ordinance as proposed would repeal a chapter section in the town code entitled “fences,” and create a new chapter entitled “fences and retaining walls” for the consolidation and amendment of the township’s requirements related to certain privacy fences.

Naples said there are more choices available to consumers these days, in terms of cosmetics and types of fences that can be built, such as solid fences.

“This ordinance will bring it into the 21st century,” he said.

Naples said he believes neighboring townships allow solid fences, and added that township planner Scarlett Doyle is checking on that.

Councilman Howard Norgalis asked if residents can put up any type of fence.

“I don’t buy in on that,” he said, and added that oversight is needed by the town.

Norgalis said he could understand the use of a solid fence as a privacy screen for concealing something like a drainage ditch, but didn’t want to make local neighborhoods “like stockades” with “6-foot fences all over the place.”

Doyle said the township does have a fencing permit, which has been in place since 1983. Residents are not charged for fencing, but do have to ask for permission when they want to put up a fence. 

However, Doyle said, residents do not necessarily inform the town when they construct fences, and the town wouldn’t necessarily know about them unless neighbors complained. She said she believes that zero applications in the past have been approved by the township for solid fences.

Councilman Filipe Pedroso said he has served on Bridgewater’s zoning board in the past, and that governing body has sometimes approved applications for solid fences. He asked if the planning board has reviewed the proposed ordinance, and Doyle said no. 

Doyle said the zoning board has denied applications in the past, and did not suggest changing the ordinance.

Norgalis said it sounds to him like residents are putting up fences and ignoring the township. Doyle reiterated the town’s interaction has been limited to receiving complaints, which the zoning officer then checks out, but that the officer does not check for fencing on a regular basis.

Pedroso argued that the township has defined the ordinance at the zoning board level for a decade.

“(It has) the most significant impact on the township character,” he said. “We’d love to hear from the public (about it).”

Pedroso agreed that he also doesn’t want a blockade in town, and said it could “change the character of Bridgewater forever.”

Council president Allen Kurdyla said the proposed fencing ordinance has arisen out of non-compliance, with people disregarding current regulations, and hundreds of instances not enforced. He said the ordinance would bring Bridgewater back in line with its neighbors, and could also be fine-tuned.

“The current ordinance is a problem,” said Kurdyla, who said the same thing had happened to him, with 20 feet of his own backyard being fenced in.

Pedroso said he wants to keep an open mind regarding the situation, and reiterated that he would like to have input from Bridgewater residents.

Councilman Matthew Moench said he feels the current ordinance might be too restrictive, and wondered if the proposed measure goes too far the other way. He said he wants to give discretion to the zoning board, and felt that property lot size was also an issue and that actual zones might need to be examined.

“We probably do need to look at changes,” he said.

Moench also said he recognized that there were some properties that simply might not be able to comply, and that the council does not control enforcement, not necessarily even with a potential “walling in” effect of 6-foot high fences. 

Pedroso added that people might not know there is a fencing ordinance, and that there might also be a lot of resident sheds in town that violate municipal regulations because residents do them on their own.

“We have a good framework and starting point for discussion,” Moench said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Bridgewater/Raritan

Upcoming Events

Thu, October 19

The Wayrick Wildlife Gallery, at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Gallery, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: The Wayrick Wildlife Art Gallery -- ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Green

Thu, October 19, 12:00 PM

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Bridgewater, Bridgewater

Howl-O-Ween Pawty

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Other

Carousel_image_3412625cb8733eaefabe_bridgewaterhowl-o-weenpawty2017-01__1_

Thu, October 19, 12:00 PM

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Bridgewater, Bridgewater

Howl-O-Ween Pawty

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Other

A Call for Help: a Review on Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

October 9, 2017

To the Editor, 

This is mainly a call for help than a formal letter. I felt the need to tell my story to someone because this was the first time I was disappointed in my township. Or rather, I was disappointed in the shelter. And let me tell you why.

Two months ago, I found a kitten in the garage. I was not sure if he was okay, so I decided to give him to the shelter, in hopes that he ...

Bridgewater Man Arrested for DWI Following Motor Vehicle Crash, Police Say

October 14, 2017

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Bridgewater man was arrested for driving while intoxicated Oct. 4 following a motor vehicle crash on Foothill Road, according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police.

Karam Khosla, 27, was issued summonses for driving while intoxicated, careless driving and failure to maintain a traffic lane following the arrest at about 9:57 a.m.

Khosla was processed and released ...

Partners in Awareness, Access and Action – Susan G. Komen North Jersey and City of Newark to Present Free Women’s Wellness Expo in Newark on October 28

October 19, 2017

Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it has forged an exciting new partnership with the City of Newark to present a free Women’s Wellness Expo. The inaugural Expo, to be held on Saturday, October 28, 10:00am-4:00pm at the JFK Recreation Center, will draw on resources from public, corporate and medical communities to raise awareness for breast health and healthy lifestyles, provide ...

County Parks Administrator Elected to the American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration

October 15, 2017

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Cindie Sullivan, deputy director of the Somerset County Park Commission, has been elected to the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. Sullivan was inducted recently at the Academy’s Annual Meeting during the National Recreation and Park Association Conference in New Orleans, LA.

The Academy is a group of distinguished practitioners and educators who ...

Paying tribute to 'Shakespeare in Love'

Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey pays tribute to ‘Shakespeare in Love’

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ – Many audiences loved the film version of “Shakespeare in Love,” which won the best picture Academy Award in 1999, with dialogue by Marc Noonan and Tom Stoppard. Adapted by Lee Hall for the stage, much of the dialogue remains. The production has a warmth and ...

Department of Justice: ISIS Sympathizer Arrested in Cranford, Plotting the "Next 9/11" with Two Accomplices

October 8, 2017

NEW YORK, NY – The Department of Justice released details of a thwarted terror plot to attack New York City during the summer of 2016 on Friday.

Three men, who were arrested in 2016 and 2017, planned to detonate bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system and shoot civilians at concert venues in support of ISIS, according to the Department of Justice.

The three arrested ...