CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann took full responsibility for the "misunderstanding" that led to signs by the group "Stop Overdeveloped Chatham" being removed from residential laws by the township DPW on Valentine's Day last Friday.
Hoffmann spoke up in defense of the mayor and township committee on Thursday afternoon when the Chatham Township Committee held a special meeting to discuss affordable housing litigation in executive session. Some Chatham Township residents had called the police to ask why their signs had been stolen.
"This was nothing done by our township committee," Hoffmann said. "This was something that I did. I called our DPW after 4 o'clock and looking forward to our mediation the next day. This wasn't done with any consultation with the township committee. This was something that I did. This was an idea that I had because I didn't want signs to appear at our mediation that were on municipal property. I didn't want that thrown in our face the next day. That's what I did. I did not ask them.
"I didn't have to ask anybody and I didn't ask anybody. I gave directions and the directions weren't clear because I didn't listen to the response because I was busy doing something else. So I need to give better directions and I need to listen better. The only thing that happened here was a misunderstanding and it was my fault, no one else. Not the DPW, not the township committee. This is not anything else except for me giving unclear orders. End of Discussion. There were no signs that were stolen. They were given back. It's a misunderstanding."
Robert Hoffmann defends the mayor and committee in explaining the snafu that led to signs being removed by the township DPW
During public commentary, Green Village resident Dan Miller said the removal of the lawn signs opposing affordable housing being built at the municipal building was approved by Chatham Township Mayor Mike Kelly and Deputy Mayor Tracy Ness.
During his public comments (see video below), Miller called on Kelly and Ness to resign their positions and have committee members Karen Swartz and Stacey Ewald replace them.
Ness responded to Miller in the video below, stating that she would have said "No" if she had known about the plan to remove the signs.
Mayor Kelly repeated his initial response to the signs being taken from residents, reading it into the record in the video below.