SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – At its meeting Tuesday night, the town council unanimously moved to pass a public smoking ban into law today. The penalty can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and potential jail time.
Councilman Micky Marcus remarked on the strict and punitive nature that the state penalty allows for. Drawing from examples of how other towns have adapted the laws to a lesser punishment, Marcus said, “Belmar prohibits smoking on the beach--their fine is between a maximum of $25 to $250, and Seaside Heights is $50 for a first-time offense, $100 for a second-time offense and three days of community service."
The way Donna Drummond, a representative for Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey, explained the intent of the law was that, “the law is meant to be self-enforcing. If children grow up seeing their parents smoke, it will increase the chances of them smoking,” she said. In a survey of 15 other New Jersey towns, “not one person has ever been issued a summons,” said Drummond.
Under the advice of the Township Attorney Judy Verrone, the town council made the decision to adopt the law with the intention of the council later modifying it to a suitably agreed upon punishment range and fine.
Contention surrounded the issue of where to place the emergency radio station and antennae. “Since it is a shared service with Fanwood, we had to explore different areas to ensure the best frequency range for the best two town coverage,” said Mayor Kevin Glover.
In disagreement with placing antennae over a playground where kid’s play, both Deputy Mayor Colleen Gialanella and Councilman Bo Vastine suggested that, "The town hall, which houses a backup generator and has response personnel in place, would seem the logical place for it."
Glover explained, in depth, both the way the mechanism works and the reasoning behind the search for a location. “LaGrande Park was ruled out because the signal would interfere with the Rutgers emergency radio response frequency. Town hall was also considered, but one of the questions was whether or not it is centrally located enough for both Fanwood and Scotch Plains... Forest Road Park better met the criteria," Glover said.
After some back and forth discussion between Gialanella and Glover, it was decided that Greener by Design, the environmental asset management and grant writing company, should meet with the SID board to explain how they can help the downtown receive additional aid for improvements. Glover suggested, “Let them talk to the SID board and allow the SID to decide if they see value in what they offer and then get back to us.”
The suggested plan is to re-allocate the Shackamaxon golf settlement money, the SID funds and whatever grant assistance they get to make improvements to downtown Scotch Plains.
The meeting ended with the town council members offering words of encouragement and support to newly appointed Town Manager Jerry Giaimis.