FLEMINGTON, NJ - In the past, when a citizen was ticketed for any number of infractions in Flemington, on top of the financial burden of the fine was the added inconvenience of having to appear in court.
Now, in response to a memo from the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts, the borough council has made more than a dozen local ordinance violations dealing payable without an in-person court appearance, mostly dealing with noise, alcohol consumption and litter.
Influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the AOC recommendation went out to all Hunterdon County municipalities to consider adding new “payable” offenses to their municipal violation’s schedule.
With input from Police Chief Jerry Rotella, the borough’s municipal judge and prosecutor, the council unanimously voted to make 13 offenses payable without requiring a court appearance. The ticketed party can just plead guilty and pay the fine.
According to borough attorney Tara St. Angelo, “the move was designed to reduce some traffic to the municipal court.”
She added that some of the fines have also been adjusted to align with similar fines in nearby municipalities. The fines should not be too high, but they also shouldn’t be so low that they don’t discourage people from breaking the law, St. Angelo said.
The offenses now payable with a court appearance are:
- Litter in Public Places – 1st Offense, $50
- Litter in Public Place – Subsequent offenses, $100
- Juvenile - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. without a parent or guardian, $100
- Noise Control – 1st Offense, $100
- Noise Control – Subsequent Offenses, $200
- Purchase of Alcoholic Beverage by a Minor – 1st offense, $200
- Purchase of Alcoholic Beverage by a Minor – subsequent offenses, $400
- Alcoholic Beverages Regulated in Public Places – $50
- Consumption of Alcoholic Beverage in Public Place – $50
- Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Public Place – $50
- Possession of Alcohol – $50
- False Alarms – 1st Offense, $100
- False Alarms – Subsequent offenses, $200
At the same council meeting the terms of the borough’s Shade Tree Commission were re-established.
In the existing ordinance, the member’s terms were unclear, so the action taken by the council was to define the appointment of members and set up a schedule going forward that ensures continuity and consistency.
The existing members – John Gorman, Zach Perez, Sandy Borucki, Nancy Schermerhorn, Mike DeLuca and Edna Pedrick as alternate – were reappointed to terms that will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.
Then, starting on Jan. 1, 2021, appointments will be made on a staggered basis, with one member appointed to a term of one year; one member appointed to a term of two years; one member appointed to a term of three years; one member appointed to a term of four years; and one member appointed to a term of five years. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for a term of five years.