CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - The mayor and council took on issues of light poles, a lawsuit over the market garden ordinance, idle-free zones, and recycling bags at their Thursday evening meeting.
The council is mulling over purchasing two light poles at Shunpike Field to get more use out of the fields.
Mayor Nicole Hagner said that the two poles would cost approximately $60,000, which would be funded by the Chatham Athletic Fund, baseball and softball clubs, and the joint trust fund.
"This is something that we should look at with the activity that we put on the fields," said Hagner.
In addition the Chatham Township committee was expected to discuss a lawsuit in executive session that was filed against the township over its recent market garden ordinance which allows residents to grow fruits and vegetables on their land, but prohibits them from selling it on their property.
During the public comment portion of the public meeting, resident Dan Miller urged the township committee to defend the ordinance. "If you knuckle under on this ordinance, it will neuter this committee," said Miller.
Deputy Mayor Robert Gallup said that it would depend on the costs of the legal fees on whether they would fight the lawsuit. If the township opts to not defend the ordinance, it would give the plaintiffs a victory by default and in turn invalidate the measure, township legal staff said.
Hagner said the township would have to set up a legal budget if they opt to defend the ordinance.
The mayor and council also approved allowing out-of-town junior tennis players to play at the Colony Pool. The resolution sets up a $50 surcharge for such players.
The mayor and council reaffirmed the township's ordinance against idling vehicles, which was first backed by the township in 2007. The measure prohibits drivers from idling more than three minutes at a time at certain locations, especially township schools.
According to township officials and committee members, the measure is more of an advisory than something enforced by local police. Chatham township police said there have not been any tickets given to drivers who were idling.
Committee member Bailey Brower Jr. was the lone dissenter. "I don't want police running around and chasing mothers who are waiting at the YMCA for their kids when it is 100 degrees out and they have to turn off their motors and AC in the cars," said Brower.
But Township Administrator Thomas E. Ciccarone said that the resolution is more of a "grass roots" move to have parents shut off their cars while waiting for children at schools. "This is more geared toward the parents who get to school early to get a prime spot and sit for 10 to 25 minutes," said Ciccarone. "They are running their cars just outside the classrooms."
Committee member Laura Ali Nonnenmacher added that she has noticed that the word has gotten out to school parents and there has been a decreased number of parents idling outside of the area schools.
Brower added that he is not against the nature of the resolution, but did not want township police handing out tickets for violators.
In other business, Frank Esposito, chairman of the township Environmental Commission's recycling committee, asked that the township purchase 500 recycling bags for the Green Heritage condominiums.
While the commission received approval to buy the bags, the committee said that the commission could not purchase the items specifically for Green Heritage. Hagner said that it would not be right for a township group to buy for a private group and not for the rest of the township.
The committee members requested that the commission buy the bags have them available at various events and for all township residents.
The committee also decided to meet once in July instead of twice. The next committee meeting is July 19.