Five Things: Township Council Meeting
Mice infestation, business of the month, township discusses rejected ordinance
The township council met Tuesday night, here are five things you need to know.
1. Supreme Bakery was named Business of the Month by Council President Patricia Spango. "For over 43 years, Supreme Bakery and the Stolz family have provided the community with the freshest and finest bakery products," Spango said. Richard Stolz received the award from the council.
2. Residents of Babcock Place in West Orange came before the township council and the mayor Tuesday to vent frustrations over a growing rodent problem in the area.
Enid Olsen, who lives on Babcock Place, said she's lived in her house for 18 years and never once had a problem with mice. But, in recent months, Olsen said she's seen at least eight mice inside her home, "To me that's an infestation, I'm very clean with my home."
Olsen and her neighbors said the rodent issues stemmed from the abandoned lot adjacent to their homes on Babcock Place that is owned by Prism Capital Partners, LLC. "This is unsanitary and unhealthy," Olsen said before the council, urging the township to ask Prism to exterminate their lot.
Another Babcock Place resident, Aidah Whoo, said she didn't have enough money to exterminate her home but needed to get rid of the mice as their feces carries bacteria that can be harmful to children. Whoo, 32, has a 15-month-old son.
Mayor Robert Parisi said the request of the residents was "reasonable" and their experience "did not seem far-fetched." "The remedy is feasible," he said, promising to call Prism to work out a solution and a way to exterminate the land. He said Prism was not currently doing anything on site and merely using the area as a temporary staging area.
Theresa De Nova, health officer for the township, said said though the health department found no evidence of mice on the Prism property, there was still a possibility the rodents were using the lot as shelter and finding their way indoors for food and water. She urged residents to take precautions this time of year to prevent mice from coming into their homes. She said residents should not leave any type of food out and try to seal any openings on their property.
3. West Orange resident Rodolfo Rodriguez and other residents suggested the township council consider moving the May elections to November to save the township thousands of dollars. Township officials said municipal elections cost roughly $80,000 every two years. Councilwoman Patricia Spango said that though she supported saving the township money, she did not want to "take a nonpartisan election and put it into a partisan election." Council member Sal Anderton agreed and said he was firm believer in the township's nonpartisan government.
4. During the ABC Hearing, township officials transferred Rock Cellar's old liquor license to Slate, a new restaurant/lounge that will open in February. Check Patch later for more information on the restaurant and an interview with the owner.
5. The township council discussed a proposed ordinance by Councilman Joe Krakoviak regarding posting township council agendas on the website. The ordinance was rejected from inclusion in the meeting's agenda by Council President Patricia Spango.
"It is unnecessary to spend time trying to fix something that is not broken," Spango said, defending her decision to deny the ordinance. "We have more important changes to discuss."
Krakoviak vehemently disagreed, "Giving one council person the power to deny another council person for the right to propose legislation for consideration, in my opinion, is wrong. How can council persons do the job if they can't propose change?"
The new ordinance mandates that the agenda be posted the Friday morning prior to the meeting — a practice regularly followed by the township clerk.
Drafted with the help of Kenneth Kayser, assistant attorney for the township, the ordinance essentially "codifies existing practices," Krakoviak said. "I'm not criticizing anybody individually, I just think we need to make this clear, how important this is to get information out to the people that elected us."
During the last meeting, Krakoviak expressed concern about the promptness of information posted on the township website when the Jan. 4 agenda was not publicly posted until a few hours prior to the meeting.
"I don't know that a couple of instances is means for taking drastic steps," Mayor Robert Parisi said. He said he would support the council's decision but emphasized that the website was being revamped and that the township was doing its best to disseminate information in a timely fashion."We all make mistakes ... I'm not sure an ordinance will prevent human error."
Township council members were ambiguous as to the fate of the proposed ordinance.
Councilman Victor Cirilo suggested officials look at recent state legislation that addresses government transparency to further review the necessity of the ordinance. "I don't know if we have to do it locally if there is a state law … we should see how that will help us."
Kayser, though, said the ordinance would eventually have to be put on the agenda.
"At some point, it's going to go on the agenda … (the council president) does not have the right to keep something off the agenda forever," Kayser told Patch. He said the council president has the authority to determine what goes on the agenda and when, but ultimately, has no veto power.