BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township will no longer have an economic development officer, although it will add two more members to the municipal planing board, per recent decisions made by the Bridgewater Township Council.
The council voted unanimously on several ordinances at its Jan. 16 meeting—to eliminate the position of economic development officer, and to increase the size of the Bridgewater Township Planing Board from seven members to nine members. No members of the public spoke during either public hearing.
The council first voted, 4-0, to repeal the economic development officer, which has been in operation for years. Township Administrator Michael Pappas said that the township administration felt “that function will be more than adequately covered” but current members of the administration.
Councilman Michael Kirsh said he is satisfied that the position will be satisfied by others in the administration. Councilman Timothy Ring said he had spoken recently with a real estate official, who had expressed surprise that the township had had a full-time official for economic development.
“It reinforces that we’re doing the right thing,” said Ring, while council president Howard Norgalis added that Bridgewater is “a different town (now).”
The council also voted, with three affirmative votes and one abstention, to add two members to the township planning board.
“I understand that most towns around us have nine (members),” said Norgalis. “This is a good move. It will bring more residents into the fray.”
Earlier in the meeting, prior to the vote, Mayor Matthew Moench said the planning board has already had its reorganization, with six new faces now on the board. He said citizens are still concerned about the Center of Excellence application that the board approved in December, and he added that the township will continue to address the matter.
“Hopefully we’ll add two more voices tonight,” he said.
Ring said he had examined several nearby towns, including Bound Brook, Raritan and Somerville, all of whom boast nine planning board members.
The council also unanimously approved an ordinance to set a fee schedule for the usage of electric vehicle charging stations operated on township property, and ratified another to amend and clarify the procedure for the promotion of municipal police officers.
Acting Police Chief Paul Payne said he had spoken with township attorney Chris Corsini on the matter.
“It’s a simple change,” said Payne. “It makes the changes positive for all officers.”
Norgalis said that in the past, there were five interviewers involved in each officer promotion—the police chief, two captains and two lieutenants. There is one less person in that lineup now with the acting chief, as former full-time chief Al Nicaretta retired in December.