WESTFIELD, NJ — Developers wishing to build in most parts of this town will have to provide electric vehicle charging stations under new rules approved by the Town Council. The rules come into play whenever a new development would require that the parking spaces be included as part of an application.
The regulations approved by a unanimous vote Tuesday will require that the developers of new buildings in 18 of the municipality’s zones provide infrastructure to allow for charging electric vehicles.
“We want to be a sustainable community. We want to be a leader,” said Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who chairs the town’s Code Review Committee. “We want to be smart about any future development that comes in so that we’re being thoughtful about the future of vehicles. At this point, it’s a relatively small requirement.”
Nobody spoke at the public hearing for the new law, which would require that electric vehicle charging stations comprise 3% of the total number of parking spaces of any development. If the number is a fraction it must be rounded up, the regulations stipulate. The regulation takes effect in January 2020.
“It’s a reasonable concept,” said Planning Board Chairman Robert Newell on Wednesday. “We haven’t had any pushback from it — at least not at the Planning Board level. It is an added cost for the developer, but they can recoup those costs over time.”
The regulations allow for the owner of a charging station to collect a fee for the use of that station. Notice of any fee must be prominently display and also be in keeping with state and federal laws, the regulation states.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said the town’s attorney looked into what practices are in place in other municipalities statewide and across the nation.
“It is becoming somewhat standard practice in many municipalities,” Brindle said after Tuesday’s meeting. “So we wanted to make sure that especially as affordable housing units are starting to be developed that we incorporate that.”
Electric vehicle charging stations have been popping up in municipalities throughout New Jersey, including Verona, which is installing its first municipally owned charging station this November and Bridgewater, which obtained funding for electric vehicle charging stations through a state grant.
Data from the state Department of Environmental protection show 26,840 electric vehicle registrations statewide as of June 30 of this year, which is up from 338 electric registrations in 2011.
Brindle said the impetus for looking into the charging stations had initially come from the town’s Green Team.
Councilman David Contract, liaison to the Green Team, said the rules for electric vehicle charging stations come in advance of town adding two new electric vehicle chargers to public parking lots in the downtown. Details on which lots would get the stations had yet to be announced.
“It’s in this year’s budget, and we’re going to make it happen,” Contract said.
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