MONTVILLE, NJ – Newly named Mayor Richard Conklin gave the State of Montville Township address at the Jan. 1, 2018 reorganization meeting, as required by township code. He spoke of the strengths of the township, the challenges it faces and his personal goals for the year.

First he gave a rundown of the 2017 accomplishments within the township, which included the paving of more than 22 roads, the new sidewalk on Changebridge Road by Lazar, the new turf at the soccer field at the park, the new roof at the municipal building, and cameras at the youth center, the dog park and the municipal building.

“These projects and various others were all completed while maintaining a tax levy well below the two percent for the past several years, and while reducing our debt by over $22 million since 2012,” Conklin said. “Montville Township has retained its AAA bond rating for the ninth consecutive year.”

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Conklin listed the Pilgrim pipeline as one of the challenges which “threatens our aquifer and water supply.” He also listed overdevelopment and affordable housing. (Read about former mayor Jim Sandham’s address to the Montville Township Chamber of Commerce and this problem here.)

“Due to the desirability of Montville Township, developers are extremely aggressive in trying to build here,” he said. “We need to review our zoning laws and insure they protect the best interest of our residents and not the developers.

“Montville has always been proactive, and way ahead of the curve on providing equal housing for all. Working closely with our planners and developers, Montville had actually achieved a surplus in our affordable housing requirements. Now there are those who want to change the rules after the fact.

“The township is currently in litigation with the Council on Affordable Housing. We are still open minded, and welcoming to all, and I believe we are receptive to tweaking our requirements. We will make every effort to find a middle ground solution, but should vigorously oppose any demands that will alter the quality of life for our residents or the quaint character of Montville,” he said.

Conklin said there were four opioid deaths in the township in 2017, with two additional deaths under investigation as to the cause, but drugs are assumed to be the cause. He said there were 10 narcan saves in the township by police officers.

“The township committee needs to work in conjunction with our Drug Awareness Council, health department and law enforcement to fight this crisis,” he said.

Every year the township committee sets goals, and Conklin listed some of his ideas.

“Maintaining our bond rating and reducing debt, while holding the line on taxes is an obvious priority,” Conklin said.

He listed facilities updates he was interested in, such as improvements to the Lake Montowac dam, additional bleachers at Camp Dawson and more street paving while the price of petroleum is still low. He was also interested in acquiring open space and passing an ordinance against demolition by neglect to help preserve historic properties.

“Although we do face challenges, I want to emphasize, that the condition of our township is very good,” Conklin said. “I am excited, optimistic and look forward to a successful 2018.”