MADISON, NJ – The hotly debated Pilgrim Pipeline, which would move crude oil from Albany, N.Y. to Linden, has been opposed by many nearby communities.
Madison Borough Council passed an ordinance at its meeting Monday night that seeks to prohibit unregulated pipelines in any zoning district. Councilman Robert Catalanello abstained from voting, saying he was concerned about the constitutionality of the ordinance. Councilman Kenneth Rowe cast a negative vote.
A representative from the Morris County Watershed said the ordinance “would go a long way to protect wildlife habitat. Pollution of those lands would be catastrophic,” contaminating drinking water. The community’s obligation, she said, is to ‘preserve and protect’ its environment.
A Chatham resident said he applauds Madison for taking this step. “It’s not just about a pipeline. It’s preserving a way of life,” he said.
Councilman Robert Landrigan said he had researched the legality issue and that the government must limit the use of taking public property to advance private interests. He also voiced concerns about the pipeline running through a densely populated area.
Councilman Rowe, however, said that transporting oil by railroad has its own dangers. “By the end of the day, we won’t have a leg to stand on,” he said.
Councilman Ben Wolkowitz said it’s a question of dynamics and that Pilgrim could look for alternatives with fewer spills. “If something should happen, it would be unfortunate to feel that we could have done something.”
The ordinance states that the pipeline would pose a threat to the infrastructure and does not provide the public with necessities, such as electricity, gas, telephone, water or wastewater service. The ordinance will be sent to the Morris County Planning Board and other municipalities.
The council also adopted a resolution regarding immunizations. Councilman Wolkowitz said the resolution would require those who wanted religious exemptions to submit a notarized letter and to fully understand the risks and benefits of their decision. A child could be excluded from school in certain situations. The Madison Health Department and Board of Health note the need to prevent disease and protect the health of the community’s population. The resolution states that nearly 9,000 students in the 2013-2014 academic year claimed religious exemptions, compared with 1,641 students in 2005-2006. Scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly that vaccines are safe and the decrease in vaccination rates poses a serious risk to public health. The vaccine prevents outbreaks of measles, pertussis and mumps, which are on the increase.
In another area, the council introduced an amended ordinance to permit sidewalk dining licenses. The hearing will be at the May 11 council meeting. A representative from the Downtown Development Commission said the move would stimulate the economy and would be an enhancement to the community. He pointed out that Madison is competing with other towns that provide outside dining. Councilman Landrigan observed that Madison streets are empty in the evening because people are dining inside. He said outdoor dining would help the downtown ‘look alive.”
“I’m happy to finally see this happen,” Councilwoman Carmela Vitale said. “It’s a big thing and will encourage people to stay in Madison.” The outdoor service would be smoke free and sidewalk passage areas would be maintained. Outdoor dining would be limited to wait table service and would be smoke free.
Mayo Robert Conley delivered proclamations acknowledging the Downtown Development Commission, Boy Scout Troop 7, Leading the Way Award and Artist of the Year award for a 4th grader whose design was selected for shirts for May Day. The oath of office was given to Probationary Firefighter Thomas M. Boylan.