HOPATCONG, NJ – Bow season will see deer hunters on the borough’s nature preserve in a move designed to alleviate some of the overpopulation problem.
Borough Attorney John Ursin explained to the public that all state hunting regulations apply and fish and wildlife will answer any concerns promptly. He noted the preserve is a large parcel of open land, which is why the borough chose it for the hunt.
Councilman Michael Francis said the arrangement was drawn up by a task force that spent a great deal of time and included experts.
“We addressed safely," Francis said, "which is why we will only allow bow hunting. We chose to go with the state regulations because of strict enforcement.”
Mayor Sylvia Petillo noted the land will be posted. Resident Joanne Kosloski, who lives near the preserve, suggested the signs also emphasize that no motorized vehicles are allowed on the land. She said the ATVs, which are not allowed in the preserve, are a nuisance and by the time police arrive on the scene they are gone. She said they are damaging the preserve, leaving deep ruts that become breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Petillo said she doesn’t think adding the prohibition to the signs would stop them.
Kosloski said of the ATV operators, “They drink and if they get hurt, that’s another legal issue.”
The council unanimously passed the resolution allowing deer hunting on the preserve
Petillo noted the application for a hunting permit is available on the borough website or from the municipal clerk.
The only other public comment was a question from Jennifer Johnson about the recent reassessment.
Johnson said the assessment went down but her taxes are going up.
Ursin explained the council has nothing to do with the taxes. The assessment is done by a the tax assessor and the borough-wide revaluation was done by an outside group. “That’s done on purpose,” Ursin said.
Petillo said that since all assessments went down due to the economic downturn, the more valuable properties that lost less value would pay higher taxes while the less valuable properties that lost a larger percentage of their value would pay lower taxes. She said Johnson could meet with the tax assessor for a further explanation relating to her property specifically.
Two other significant actions were taken by the council.
They were required to authorize additional funding for a home rehabilitation project. The project was to replace a septic tank at 104 Evergreen Ave. for $15,000. However, when the tank was dug up, it was determined more work was needed so council had to authorize spending up to $24,200 to complete the work.
Council also voted to authorize the mayor to negotiate with the Hopatcong Pound Project for Animal Attendant Services. Previously, the pound attendance was employed by the borough, but since the Pound Project has taken over operation of the pound, they will provide the attendant and the borough will pay the Pound Project.
The pound has been without an attendant for a couple of months, Borough Administrator Robert Elia said, but volunteers have been taking good care of the animals.