STANHOPE BOROUGH, NJ --- A mandatory ordinance for Knox Boxes was the topic of discussion at the previous September 25 town council meeting in Stanhope Borough (click here for article).

Several small business owners had attended the public hearing to discuss their concerns with the council, whom at the time believed Knox Boxes should be solely used for commercial purposes.

A Knox Box is designed to hold up to ten keys, which can only be accessed by the business owners and local fire department in the case of a fire.

After hearing several of the citizens' points of views, the topic was brought up once again at the Tuesday, October 9 meeting.

“A few weeks ago we passed an ordinance to have Knox Boxes,” stated councilman George Graham. “We even had a Knox Box presentation and public meeting. I feel that if this is a mandated ordinance, I can’t support this. This is an unfunded mandate to our businesses. I am going to ask the council to resubmit the ordinance. I think it is a great idea but should be voluntary.”

“My sole concern is have the fire department have access to these buildings and they can potentially save lives. That was my concern because businesses are closed at night and people live in them as well. I disagree with reconsidering because we have already discussed it. I agree that unfunded mandate is unfair and it is up to the business owner. I’d like some more answers before we push it any further,” replied councilman James Benson to Graham.

“I support the program and agree with everything you said. Businesses with kitchens should be strongly urged to have it but my concern is to discuss this soon before the January 1 deadline approaches,” said Graham.

“After the last meeting, I have given it a lot of thought. Being an ex-fireman, I know that no matter how bad that fire is they will get in with Knox Box or no box,” said councilman Michael Depew.

Ralph Stone, a small business owner of NAPA Auto Parts, had approached the council during public participation.

“On several occasions, I have had my doors kicked in but never for a fire. I had my business sold because of this ordinance, had to give my keys back, just thought you should know that,” stated Stone.

Fred Graff, another small business owner stated, “I also agree it could be a good program. I have been doing a lot of research on this. If that box is misused by someone to get into the building, the insurance company will come back after you [the town] for the money and misuse of the key.”

“Also, if I am being forced to do this by the town and there is a liability issue, my insurance company said they will come after the town,” said Stone.

The council plans to further address this matter.

In other business:

The borough council had several other ordinances to discuss.

The borough has approved and accepted a gdonation of $500 from the American Legion to benefit t-shirts for The G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) Program.

“The program is like DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) but more with anti-bullying which builds self-esteem and reinforces. The Chief [Steve Pittigher] explained he is going to have a graduation and surprise them,” said councilwoman Diane Kuncken.

“We endorse this program and accept this donation,” said Benson.

Another ordinance was brought to the table from Pittigher for sexual offenders.

“I don’t understand how this effects us,” Graham said.

“The way he [Pittigher] explained it is that currently when a sex offender is to be released, it is not notified until three months after the release, this ordinance would be three months prior to release to make a safer community,” stated Kuncken.

All were in favor.

Selected members of the town council and volunteers will be gathering together this Saturday, October 13 at 10 a.m. to tie pink ribbons around the poles on Main Street in support of breast cancer awareness month.