CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township Mayor Michael Kelly announced a Coronavirus-related death among the 42 additional cases reported above the township's official state total at the virtual meeting of the Chatham Township Committee on Thursday.
Kelly noted that as of Thursday morning, the state official total of Coronavius cases for Chatham Township had risen by 11, with 10 reported from one assisted-living facility.
"Those 11 new cases brings our official total to 45," Kelly said. "However, we have confirmed reports that Juniper Village is reporting that 24 of its residents and 18 of its staff members - for a combined total of 42 people - have been tested positive.
"The difference between those numbers is that the state has a cutoff time. Their numbers are accurate to that time. The unfortunate and tragic information is that we have those numbers coming to us from Juniper Village. We have also been told unofficially those numbers have actually increased at Juniper Village and that there has been one death there."
Kelly also reported that the "glimmer of good news" in the increased total is that only one new case came from outside the assisted-living facility.
"We're sad to report that we have some tough times ahead," Kelly said.
The Juniper Village numbers are likely inflated because some have already been counted in the state total and staff members may be counted as residents of other towns.
Committee member Karen Swartz interjected that despite the grim news, "there are people getting better every day."
At the virtual meeting televised on cable and available through video-conferencing on Zoom, the committee adopted an ordinance, 5-0, that reduces the Open Space Tax to one cent. If the committee had done nothing, the tax would have been two cents as per a referendum passed years back that set the tax at two cents unless otherwise amended. The vote on the tax is revisited each year.
Mayor Kelly, Deputy Mayor Tracy Ness, committee member Swartz, clerk Greg LaConte and administrator Robert Hoffmann, were in physical attendance at the meeting. Committee members Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco and attorney Albert Cruz participated from remote locations.
There was no action taken on affordable housing and an ordinance related to the affordable housing site Arbor Green at Chatham on Southern Boulevard was moved to April 23 for the public hearing and adoption. The ordinance will amend the affordable housing site parameters so that Chatham Township will remain the owner of the Skate Park property, thereby safeguarding its existence.
Mayor Kelly also reported that in its third-round obligation settlement case on affordable housing, the township has received a two-week extension on a scheduled hearing because of the Coronavirus.
In other business, Hoffmann reported that the township had rolled over a bond ordinance that had come due, extending the $10 million bond note for another year at an interest rate of 2.25 percent.