The Maplewood Township Committee had a light meeting on September 3, passing ordinances on first reading and a consent agenda of nineteen resolutions.  The meeting centered on a pair of proposed ordinances expected to be introduced in the near future regarding the authorization and zoning of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations.   

The proposed ordinances would allow EV charging stations in all zones of the township and authorizes the placement of these stations throughout the township.  Mayor Vic DeLuca said that the environmentalist group Sustainable Jersey has proposed such ordinances in different communities.  The zoning ordinance would define what an electric vehicle is, while the authorizing ordinance would encourage the installations.  The committee has been looking to be more specific by proposing a requirement that multi-family homes with five units or more devote ten percent of its parking to EV charging stations.  “That would be something that is new for us,” Mayor DeLuca noted.

One issue that also came up was how to define an electric vehicle.  Committeeman Dean Dafis provided some answers on the subject.  He said that an EV is defined as automobile that gets its energy from the electric grid and stores in internally.

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“I did a little research, and it’s fascinating,” Dafis said, “and it can get quite complex.”  He explained that a car like the Toyota Prius runs in part on electricity but has its electricity generated from the gasoline motor when the car is brought to a stop.  The braking creates regenerative energy that is used to power the electric motor and this energy would otherwise be wasted in a gasoline-powered car, but because it does not receive any energy from an outside source, it would not be considered an EC.

Cars that are considered EVs, therefore, are cars that are fully electric and do not require gasoline.  One such example is Volkswagen’s e-Golf, which shares a platform and components with the standard gasoline-powered Golf hatchback but has only an electric motor.

Mayor DeLuca agreed that the definition should be restricted to all-electric cars and not hybrids like the Prius, and so the proposed ordinance would remove references to hybrids of any sort when it is written.  These two ordinances are expected to be introduced at the committee’s September 17 meeting.

The Township Committee began its business in its capacity as the Board of Health, and the committee members summoned Health Officer Robert Roe to provide a report.  Roe said that rats had been a main focus of his office and that he had made close to 150 inspections throughout the township.  Roe said the process centers on isolating food sources for rats and eliminating them so they can easily be exterminated.  Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee asked Roe when rats are at their most active, and Roe responded that they mostly come out in the summer months, and mostly in residential areas.    

A bigger concern among the committee members was quality of the water, given Maplewood’s proximity to Newark and that city’s problems with lead in the water pipes.  Roe assured the committee that New Jersey American Water company, which serves Maplewood, routinely inspects its pipes and has found no evidence of corrosion, and he reported that the pipes meet anti-corrosion standards.   He added that there are no connections between Newark and Maplewood along Irvington Avenue, which serves as a border between the two municipalities.    

However, Roe cautioned that this does not mean there are no lead pipes in Maplewood, saying that a lot of houses still have old lead pipes.  

“The water company takes care of the parts of water mains where the water mains cut off at the curb,” Roe explained.  “That’s the water company’s issue.  But from the cutoff at the curb to the house, that’s the homeowner’s issue.”  He pointed out that even his house has lead pipes.  He said the best way to minimize the risk of lead is to run the water in the morning by flushing toilets or using the shower to flush any lead out, and he advised running water faucets for fifteen to twenty seconds before using it for consumption. 

Roe admitted that schools are a potential problem, with many of the buildings being old, but he said that filters are used in drinking fountains and cafeterias to minimize risks there.  He said that the size of the school buildings make it impossible to flush water they way one would in a house. 

Also, Assistant Township Administrator Glenn Michalowski reported that there was a conference call on August 23 with prospective vendors for the public wi-fi system Maplewood hopes to establish, and he hopes to have a proposal later this week.  Mayor DeLuca noted that this is a pilot program that may not cover as many streets as the township had hoped, as the money available is limited to $50,000. Michalowski said he was trying to maximize the available money to the greatest effect.

The resolutions the committee passed included a contract for striping on Prospect Street and repairing a sewer pipe on Boyden Avenue.  A resolution authorizing a contract for tree removal services was tabled, and Deputy Mayor McGehee abstained from approving the minutes of the August 6 meeting.   

At the end of the meeting, Dafis informed the committee that the Maplewood Village Alliance Board meets at 7:30 on September 4 in the Parlor Room at The Woodland, at 60 Woodland Road, to vote on the proposed mixed-use building for the site of Toomey’s at 104 Baker Street.  The project’s architects and developers will take questions from the public.

Also, Mayor DeLuca congratulated Township Clerk Elizabeth Fritzen for forty years of service to the township, first as the recreation supervisor from 1979 to 1988 and as township clerk since 1988.

“The salary at the time was quite low,” De Luca said, adding jokingly, “I hope you make more now.”