CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - Laura Ali Nonnenmacher, who lost the primary for township committee earlier this month, was sworn in as the new committee member on Thursday night to fill the remainder of the term of Kevin Tubbs.
Nonnemacher was chosen by the local Republican group earlier this week after the members of the township committee were not able to chose a replacement for Tubbs last month.
"It feels good," said Nonnemacher after working her first committee meeting on Thursday night. "It's a great opportunity. I feel very excited."
Last month, Tubbs announced that he was resigning from the committee which left the decision for his replacement to the four remaining committee members.
Chatham Mayor Nicole Hagner received Tubbs’ letter of resignation on May 8. Because his term expires Dec. 1, and there are more than three months remaining, the committee had to fill the vacant slot.
The township committee received three nominees from the local Republican organization who were Nonnenmacher, Joseph Contorno and Karen Swartz. All three were interviewed at a May 24 meeting, but the township committee members were deadlocked on a replacement for Tubbs.
So the decision for Tubbs replacement was sent back to the Chatham Republican Committee.
On Monday the party picked Nonnermacher, who was defeated earlier this month in the Republican party by Kevin Sullivan by only 20 votes, 573-553, for the open seat that starts on Jan. 1, 2013.
Nonnenmacher will hold the seat by filling out Tubbs term until Dec. 31.
Sullivan will face his Democratic opponent, Richard Templin, in November and the winner will take over the seat in January.
Also at the meeting Nonnenmacher and Committee woman Kathy Abbott voted against a revision of an ordinance dealing with steep slopes which passed by a vote of 3-2. Steep slopes means any slope equal to or greater than 15 percent as measured over any minimum run of 10 feet.
Hagner, Deputy Mayor Bob Gallop and Committee member Bailey Brower Jr. voted for the revision of the ordinance and said that it is a good balance and won't hurt the environment.
"No one is out to hurt the town," said Brower. "There is a balance for property rights. It is a correct way to do it."
One of the changes in the ordinance has that existing single family residences with a lot size of 25,000 square feet or less are exempt from the disturbance area limitations.
Gallop said that it allows some residents the rights to build on their property. "People move into Chatham and want to put up a patio in their background or a playground set," said Gallop.
But Abbott said that the revision will cause more flooding in the lower levels of town. "For every one family that is benefitting from it, 20 families are negatively affected by it," said Abbott.
In addition at the meeting, the committee discussed the Safe Routes to School, a group that is looking to come up with a plan that would allow students to have an easier and safer way to walk or bike to schools in Chatham Township and Chatham Borough.
Several parents came to the meeting to discuss the ongoing plan that would ultimately lead to adding sidewalks to routes to local schools.
The project could receive state grants and that would include engineering work.
Abbott, who is head of the group, said that they would like to complete a plan by December.