WEST CALDWELL, NJ — In response to public requests for a status report on the Township of West Caldwell’s current Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) obligation, Mayor Joseph Tempesta, Jr. gave a brief history of the process dating back 17 years as well as the core requirements during Tuesday’s township council meeting.

According to Tempesta, the findings are flawed because they included areas that are not available to housing, such as lakes, ponds, parks, wetlands and sewer plants. He noted that the township is currently obligated to provide 770 units of lower-income housing, which represents about 20 percent of the approximately 3,000 units that would be required to fill that mandate. 

Tempesta explained the municipality’s position and objection is currently before the assigned court, and he expects a settlement figure before summer. However, a new round of obligations would then burden the municipalities beginning in 2025, he said, adding that West Caldwell currently has 3,500 housing units in total.

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He further explained that meeting the COAH obligation has been an ongoing process, noting that lower-income housing units and/or group homes were recently added near the West Caldwell ShopRite and on Clinton Road.

In other news, Council President Joseph Cecere reported on Tuesday that the process for crafting the 2019-2020 budget has begun. 

He said the tentative budget projects an increase of $562,962, which represents an increase of 2.78 percent that is inclusive of rising health insurance costs. However, he added that Chief Financial Officer Nikole Baltycki is meeting with all department chairs to collect their drafts for their respective departments.

Councilman Stephen Wolsky reported that local landscapers have donated time and materials to help prepare Richard Park for the spring.

Councilman Michael Docteroff stated that the new salt dome is about 90 percent complete, and that all the salt will be moved from the old facility to the new dome by the end of the week. Docteroff requested that any resident experiencing an “ice flow,” or standing frozen water due to sump pumps, report it to the Department of Public Works (DPW) as soon as possible so that it can be salted.

Councilwoman Kathy Canale apprised the public that the township’s ski programs are underway, and that basketball is also beginning. She also said she is looking forward meeting with the senior citizens on Feb. 25 to plan transportation and activities.

Tempesta reported he recently attended a meeting with the mayors of Roseland, Verona, Caldwell, Livingston, Essex Fells and North Caldwell to discuss shared-service opportunities. Roseland Mayor James Spango, who organized the meeting, said he intends to hold a meeting once a month.

“Sharing is tantamount to continue for efficiency,” said Tempesta. “We will continue to explore and do more and more shared services to save a few bucks.”

The next council meeting will be held on Feb. 19 at 7:15 p.m.