LIVINGSTON, NJ — When the Livingston Township Council met on Monday night, the council voted to close two hearings, proposed three new ordinances and authorized the approval of all resolutions on the agenda. Two presentations were also made regarding the upcoming World Pancreatic Cancer Day and Red Ribbon Week and multiple residents expressed safety concerns regarding rear-yard garbage pickup expenses.

Following presentations about the new World Pancreatic Cancer Day initiative to be held on Nov. 13 and the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee’s (LMAC) Red Ribbon Week campaign, the council unanimously voted to close hearings concerning a salary ordinance and proposed modifications to the Sidewalk Program.

The final hearing to amend Salary Ordinance 30-2008, which fixes compensation for certain employees in the police division, was closed with no public comment. Dr. Bernard Searle of Washington Court was concerned that the council might need to tweak the Sidewalk Program based on how many sidewalks are in disrepair or unsafe.

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“We really need to come up to speed in the entire town so that all the sidewalks are safe,” said Searle. “Since it’s the responsibility of the owner to maintain and replace these sidewalks, some of them have taken shortcuts. So the biggest issue we really have are folks doing the right thing and enforcement.”

Taking Searle’s comments under consideration, the council closed the hearing, which establishes a second option for the existing cost-share sidewalk program.

The council voted for the final hearing of the proposed ordinance to amend the Township Code to allow Assisted Living Facilities as a conditional use when certain criteria are met to occur on Nov. 9. A final hearing for the proposed ordinance to change the criteria for background color of freestanding signs in the Commercial Industrial District will also occur on that date.

The council also discussed a proposed ordinance establishing a BN Neighborhood Business District, which rezones an area near McLellan Ave., currently zoned as the B-1 Business District, to BN Neighborhood Business District. Livingston Mayor Michael Silverman clarified that the council is noticing all residents in the area and that the final hearing will take place at the Dec. 7 meeting.

“We will be noticing all the residences in the neighborhood as per required,” said Silverman.

Prior to public comment, the council authorized the approval of five resolutions. During the public comment portion of the meeting, a resident of Mansfield Court, who had spoken a previous meeting, questioned whether the council had discussed his concerns about rear-yard garbage pickup expenses.

Township Manager Michele Meade referred back to when the council made a change to end 100-percent rear-yard collection and shifted to those who wanted to pay extra for rear-yard collection. According to Meade, a substantial amount of Livingston residents were not taking advantage. However, three residents stood at the Oct. 26 meeting to ask that they council consider alternative options for residents who consider taking the garbage to the curb to be a safety hazard.

“It was taken under consideration,” said Silverman. “It was a fair and open-bid process and we took the lowest bid.”

Meade said the council at the time requested rear-yard pickup as an option and that the bid would charge extra to those residents. A second resident from Palmer Drive expressed her concern that the price doubled from contract to contract. The resident was concerned that there was no way of knowing whether there is a limit on prices for rear-yard pickup, whether it will increase with the next contract and whether there is a way to make sure those who physically cannot bring cans up the driveway are not “completely punished.”

“Very simply, they cannot just increase it next year,” said Silverman, who clarified that the current price is in place for the next five years. “Four and a half years from now, we will have another discussion with the bid contracts and at that time we’ll have to see what the market brings us. Prices fluctuate.” 

The resident asked the council to keep in mind that the minorities will still be an issue when the topic resurfaces in the coming years.