SOMERVILLE, NJ - B. Sue Fulton is just beginning to find her away around her new office in Trenton , but the newly-sworn director of the Department of Motor Vehicles found her way to Somerville Saturday at the invitation of state Sen. Christopher Kip Bateman for a visit to the local DMV office on Roosevelt Place which has been causing headaches for neighborhood residents.
She arrived 45 minutes early with good news, assuring Bateman and other officials that a new DMV facility set to open in South Plainfield should help alleviate the crush of traffic and customers in Somerville.
Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex) had invited Fulton to come to Somerville during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.
Fulton and members of her staff were met by Bateman, Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caligure, Mayor Ellen Brain, Granville Brady, Borough Council president and Councilman Fred Wied V, whose parents live in the neighborhood adjacent to the DMV office.
Several residents spoke with Fulton outside, voicing their concerns. She also went inside the DMV office to greet DMV staff.
Bateman and Brain were both impressed that Fulton made the trip to Somerville a priority, visiting at the end of her first week in office.
The borough has called on Trenton numerous times to intercede in an effort to combat the chronic parking problems and illegally parked cars the local DMV office on Saturdays, and Tuesday nights when the office has extended hours.
Somerville Police receive calls on a daily basis from residents complaining about the traffic, horns honking, and cars parked where they should not be – blocking driveways, and sometimes, in their driveways.
In March, Somerville police issued 70 tickets to motorists parking illegally.
“Her office is aware of Somerville’s concerns,” Brain said. “She’s brand new but she understands the issues.”
“We’re glad that we got someone from the state here,” Wied added.
“She took this very seriously,” Bateman said. “She knows the problem, we just have to hang in there until South Plainfield opens up.”
The former DMV office in the Golden Acres Shopping Center on Oak Tree Road in South Plainfield was forced to close last year on May 13 because the landlord would not renew the lease with the state DMV.
The closure shifted many of the motorists to use the Somerville DMV office.
Fulton confirmed during her visit to Somerville that a new DMV office in South Plainfield at 5000 Hadley Road – the former site of the Everest Institute -should open sometime in May, which, according to her estimates, will cut the volume of traffic and customers in Somerville by 25 percent.
Bateman said Fulton made a few other suggestions.
“She wants us to encourage people to do stuff online, that will help tremendously,” Bateman said.
Fulton said she will also consider sending a DMV mobile office to augment services provided inside the DMV building.
“That should help,” Bateman said.
Fulton also said the DMV is looking at alternate sites.
“That’s the ultimate solution,” Bateman said, offering a possible site.
“The Walmart store that closed in Readington on Route 22, that has a big parking lot and is on the main artery,” Bateman said.