LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Township Council passed two ordinances, geared to improve the town's accessibility through road and parking improvements.
After a hearing held on Nov. 27, council members passed an amended ordinance for the Complete Streets Policy, for omitting the installation of sidewalks for Donato Drive and Paul Place. A resolution authorizing the execution of a New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) grant agreement for Donato Drive improvements previously garnered opposition by residents of that neighborhood due to the potential of sidewalk installations as part of an overall comprehensive road improvements plan.
Many residents spoke out during the pubic comment portion of the meeting held on Oct. 16, stating that they were initially unaware that sidewalks were originally to be part of the list for improvements stemming from the grant application put through on Oct. 5, originally one day prior to the application's deadline.
Residents cited potential flooding issues they felt would be as a result of sidewalk installations. Many residents also felt they would lose a considerable amount of frontage from their houses as a result of the sidewalk installation. Frontage is the boundary between a plot of land or a building, and the road onto which the plot or building fronts.
Mayor James Damiano said the state transportation policy was geared to make the roadways as safe as possible for vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility. However, after receiving feedback from residents during those meetings, he agreed that it may not make sense to include sidewalks. He also agreed with residents on the frontage issue.
"It may not be true on every single house and every single driveway, but it appears that a significant number of homes would lose frontage to allow for a sidewalk," Damiano said.
Damiano reassured residents that although the council would vote as they wished, he would ask that they consider the issues in making their determination. He emphasized the originally proposed sidewalk installation, along with some road lane adjustments, might not make sense on such back roads as Donato Drive and Paul Place. Council President Anthony Sgobba previously said that if it's not permissible to exclude the installation via terms of the grant, the council would then pass on the grant.
"Ordinance 1304 is the township's updated Complete Streets Policy, which will allow us greater ability to more appropriately write for grants for road improvements more in line with the needs of that particular street," Damiano said. "This means that situations such as Donato Drive can be avoided in the future because we will no longer be required to include sidewalks where they are not appropriate."
An amended parking ordinance was also passed at the recent meeting. Parking restrictions would allow police to enforce two and three hour limits on many street within the township. Two hour caps would be permissible on Hopson Avenue and Hudson Street, and three hour limits will be for Center Avenue, Main Street, Paterson Avenue, Stevens Avenue, Warren Street, Wilmore Road, and Yolanda Drive.
"Ordinance 305 affects the parking issues we face in our town center, particularly the weekend, where businesses look to ensure that vehicles continue to turn over, rather than sit there for extended periods of time," Damiano explained. "This ordinance will allow the police to enforce the three hour parking in our town center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week, with the only exception being state holidays."