RARITAN TWP, NJ - Effective March 18, Raritan Township has declared a state of emergency, and all offices will be closed.

According to a post on the township website, township offices will be closed to the general public, although staff will be on hand to serve residents via email and phone. All township facilities will be limiting public access, with the doors being locked, while continuing to provide all essential services.

Township personnel will be working regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for the administration building, and 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for the Department of Public Works.

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“Staff will still be in place at township offices,” Hutchins said at Tuesday’s township committee meeting. “We want to limit the flow of outside contact to various township offices and facilities.”

Mayor Jeff Kuhl explained that while municipal office doors may be shut, the township government and divisions “are still open for business, just in a different manner so everyone can get what they need to get done done.”

Committeeman Lou Reiner called the building closures a prudent measure with a thoughtful approach applied to public and employees’ health and safety during heightened concerns over the pandemic.

“Other New Jersey towns have cancelled their township meetings and we’re not there yet,” he said. “We want to continue to do everything that needs to be done, but we do not want to precipitously overreact either, we want to strike a balance and I think our plan is well within those parameters.”

Committeeman Gary Hazard works in Manhattan, and he said precaution must apply across the board to limit the spread of COVID-19 “as township folks will continue to work.” While routine departmental services and functions for the community take place, the goal is to be proactive in order to avert a crisis where the township could lose all its local government services.

“If one person working within the (municipal) building gets sick, we would need to quarantine this whole building and suspend the services and divisions,” he said. “As normal, the township will continue to provide levels of services, and on the police department’s side, there are new protocols in place as officers need to maintain a further distance with their vehicle pull-overs and other potential contact. This is because, again, if one officer gets sick, their whole shift could go under quarantine.”

During a comprehensive update from the Raritan Township Office of Emergency Management, (OEM) coordinator Chris Phelan explained that Gov. Phil Murphy’s declaration of a state of emergency (followed by a Hunterdon County declaration on March 16) “does not institute anything out of the norm,” but Raritan Township OEM continues to take direction from the state emergency management office.

“Our Township OEM, as well as Hunterdon County OEM has been working with critical local institutions from Hunterdon Medical Center, which is top-notch in responding to this pandemic for local residents 24/7, and with our local schools,” he said. “We are working proactively with Kari McGann, superintendent of schools for Flemington-Raritan Schools and Dr. Jeffrey Moore, superintendent of the Hunterdon Central Regional High School district.”

He added that a critical component is relying on sharing data and information with counterparts — OEM teams and coordinators in Readington Township and Flemington Borough, communicating about things we can all benefit from or be prepared for.

For the public’s knowledge of important health and wellness guidelines related to COVID-19 and more, Phelan announced that Hunterdon Medical Center’s website offers “a wealth of accurate information.”

According to a release from the township on specific services, all township committee and other board meetings will be noticed if canceled or if alternative meeting procedures will be used.

Township parks and open spaces will remain open, according to a release.

In addition, the April 1 rabies clinic has been canceled.

For fire prevention, the office will be closed to the public, and they will be conducting only essential inspections until further notice. Any questions can be directed to 908-806-6314.

Payments to municipal court can be made via mail, online for traffic tickets or left in the dropbox outside the court entrance. Warrants may also be paid at the police department, and money will be collected and processed by the court Monday through Friday.

The court phone number is 908-782-8818, fax is 908-806-6478 and the email is lynne.timlin@njcourts.gov.

Pet license renewals can be mailed with the appropriate fee to the municipal clerk's office, 1 Municipal Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822, or placed in the drop box at the front entrance to the municipal building. Renewals are due by May 31.

OPRA requests and general questions can be submitted to lisa.fania@raritantwpnj.gov or stephanie.haver@raritantwpnj.gov.

All permit applications should be submitted by mail, and an email address should be included on the permit application for ease of communication. The office will remain staffed, and residents can call 908-806-6102 for assistance.

For the Raritan Township Construction Department, the office will be closed to all individuals, but exterior and non-occupied structures currently under construction can be inspected through the normal process of inspection requests by calling 908-806-6114.

Residents can pay taxes in person by using the drop box outside the building, by mail or online at www.Raritan-Township.com. Senior freeze applications are not due until Nov. 2, and applications must be sent by mail or left in the drop box, or dropped off once the offices reopen to the public.

Anyone with questions can call 908-806-8261, fax 908-806-0008 or email annmarie.silvia@raritantwpnj.gov.

The recycling center will be closed, and those who would like to purchase recycling and non-recycling permits by mail should send a check and return address to Raritan Township Public Works, 204 Pennsylvania Avenue, Flemington, NJ 08822.

With regard to in person sale of wood mulch and leaf compost, residents should call the office Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to schedule a delivery.

As for the police department, residents can file non-emergent reports over the phone by calling 908-782-8889, and will receive a follow-up phone call if necessary.

Those who come to police headquarters will be greeted from behind glass partitions, and paperwork will be passed through slots. Anyone who has had a fever or other associated symptoms are asked not to come to headquarters.

There will be no tours of headquarters for the next 30 days, and there will be limits to participation in events.

Fingerprinting and car seat inspections are suspended until further notice, and all municipal court sessions are canceled until March 25.

Kuhl said he appreciates all the efforts of emergency personnel during the public health crisis over COVID-19.

“Hopefully we can get through this sooner rather than later and get back to normal,” he said.