BERNARDS TWP., NJ -- Joining Bernards Township's municipal court system with nearby Bedminster Township's might have seemed like an obvious way to share services and possibly save court costs, but months of discussion have failed to lead to an agreement--for the time being.

The Bernards Township Committee first showed interest in the proposal back in March, after Bernards hired Judge Katherine Howes as the township's new municipal court judge. Howes also is the municipal court judge in nearby Bedminster, which already shares its court system with the other Somerset Hills communities of Bernardsville and Peapack/Gladstone.

Bernards announces it will 'explore other options'

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But on Tuesday, Bernards Township issued an announcement that the Township Committee has "decided it is in the township's best interest to take its time, and explore other options."

The release from the Bernards municipal clerk's office specified that "Bernards Township has explored joining the shared court of Bedminster, Peapack/Gladstone and Bernardsville but did not reach an agreement."

"Bernards Township remains, however,  interested in pursuing a shared court," the release said, before adding that the Township Committee intends to look at other options.

"The Township appreciates the time and effort everyone put into exploring the opportunity," the release said, singling out Bernards Administrator Pat Monaco, Bernards Chief Financial Officer Sean McCarthy and Human Resources Manager Emily Kesselmeyer, as well as Bedminster Administrator Judy Sullivan, Bedminster Mayor Lawrence Jacobs, the municipalities of Peapack and Bernardsville, and their staff members.