CALDWELL, NJ — Barsha Khatiwada, a student intern from Caldwell University, was recently issued with a Certificate of Appreciation from a the Borough of Caldwell for her work with Ida May Renne from the borough’s tax collection office.
“Barsha was an absolute pleasure to work with and she actually taught me a few things,” said Renne. “I know she will go a long way in the future.”
Councilwoman Christine Schmidt established a partnership with the university with the goal of offering students a unique opportunity to gain insight into municipal government for a possible career working in the public sector. College credits can also be attained for their fieldwork.
A presentation detailing the partnership will be on the agenda for the next council meeting.
In other council news, two ordinances were adopted unanimously amending a current code. A new section titled “Certificate of Continued Occupancy” was added to the existing ordinance along with an ordinance to allow a $100 fee to be charged for the issuance of a Certificate of Continued Occupancy.
“We are the exception, not the rule,” said Borough Administrator Thomas Banker. “All surrounding towns require this inspection and charge the same fee. Currently, there is a part-time inspector, the fee would allow for the inspector to become full-time. We currently do not require a Certificate of Continued Occupancy (CCO), but now it will be universal.”
Banker remarked that there are currently only fire inspections when changes of residency are made, but that those inspections are primarily looking for fire hazards, working smoke detectors and means of egress. The CCO inspections will focus on zoning compliance, he said, such as illegal apartments and ensuring that sump pumps are properly hooked up and discharged.
During public comment, resident Jeff Gates, who had been a renter and is now is a homeowner, questioned the details of the ordinances. Noting that he is a real estate agent, Gates asked about lead time and whether there would be “a roadblock to a real estate transaction.” Gates also specifically wanted to know what inspections would occur.
Commenting on the $100 fee, Gates noted that rentals change hands with a greater frequency than private homes and that the landlord of a rental property would be subject to more inspection fees due to the turnover. He requested that the council “please review the fee structure to make it more reasonable on rental units as the turnover is much faster.”
“This is not a revenue generator for the borough, nor is the fee a penalty,” said Mayor John Kelley. “We need to be inspecting and this ordinance provides us the tools for enforcement. The cost to provide this service is going to be covered by the fee.”
In covering some new business, Councilman Jonathan Lace apprised the public that Police Chief James Bongiorno received a directive from the County of Essex that the crosswalk across Bloomfield Avenue across from Dunkin Donuts and St. Aloysius Church is no longer going to be allowed. According to the county, it is a potential liability due to the fact that the crosswalk does not also have a traffic light.
Banker noted that St. Aloysius can hire an off-time police officer at its own expense to assist pedestrians.
The next borough council meeting will be Aug. 6.