Little Egg Harbor Committee Discusses Garbage Ordinance

Jan 17, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Little Egg Harbor Township attorney Jean Cipriani hands out the list of businesses, nonprofits and government offices that have township garbage pickup to Business Administrator Garret Loesch (right) and Committeeman David Schlick (left).

Possible changes to the ordinance concerning garbage collection in Little Egg Harbor was the subject of a special discussion between the township committee and the township attorney during the Jan. 11 municipal meeting.

Attorney Jean Cipriani said a few weeks ago she had become aware of an issue with the township’s ordinances concerning garbage collection of some businesses, nonprofits, schools and quasi-government offices (the municipal utilities authority) and had spoken already with Deputy Mayor Barbara Jo Crea and Committeeman David Schlick but wanted the entire committee to decide what they should do.

At issue is the disparity between the 2007 waste and recycling ordinance that allows only for residential collection and an older ordinance allowing for garbage pickup for “virtually anyone,” said Cipriani.

Mayor Ray Gormley, owner of My Three Sons Seafood and Produce in Parkertown who gets his garbage bin serviced by the township, excused himself from the discussion.

“Prior to 2007 the code provided the township did commercial or gave commercial pickup for anyone,” said Cipriani. “When the re-codification came in 2007, that language changed to residential only, and that is the language we still have today. There is no mention of picking up (garbage) at any business or institutions, including the schools.

“There is a belief among some that existing businesses were grandfathered,” continued Cipriani, who said she had spent many hours in the basement of her law practice looking through past documents but could not find an ordinance with that language in it.

Committeeman John Kehm assured her that when the township re-codified the codebook, certain businesses were “grandfathered” and said it was included in the ordinances governing the planning board. “I believe it is in chapter 298,” he said. Kehm said the former superintendent of public works was concerned about the cost to pick up garbage from large commercial businesses but not the smaller, existing businesses. “I believe Chapter 298 states that new businesses must be picked up by outside vendors.”

Cipriani said the township is obligated to abide by what is said in Chapter 15 governing waste and recycling. “There is not a separate provision for planning board policy; it should be in your solid waste chapter.”

Crea said she wondered what nonprofits, schools and businesses that have been getting garbage picked up by the township would do if the township stopped their garbage pickup. “We’ve been doing this for 10 years; don’t we have an obligation to provide notices?”

And by state law everyone is required to recycle and the township is required to pick up that recycling, she added.

Cipriani said the township would not change the existing garbage collection until the township decides how it wants to proceed and what it wants the ordinance to say. “Policy determinations must be made, either by a subcommittee, or you might want a special meeting for the public or just a item on the agenda during one of your meetings that is open to the public,” she said.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens said the businesses that could be affected are also paying taxes. “My concern is that we end up with litigation from a lot of these businesses that may want their taxes lowered,” she said.

Business Administrator Garrett Loesch said he was more concerned that people who have been paying for their garbage to be hauled away might want to sue the township for unequal treatment.

As for litigation, Cipriani said she was not so concerned with that possibility. “The township has an absolute right to do whatever they want, but it must be clear.”

Cipriani handed out copies of the ordinances prior and after 2007 to members of the committee and a list of businesses and nonprofits that are currently having their garbage picked up by the township; there are approximately 45 businesses and 60 institutions and nonprofits, only one of which she could identify as a church, she told a reporter after the meeting.

“I hope this is not leading us down the path to privatization,” Stevens said. “Some businesses are still trying to rebuild (since Superstorm Sandy), and they will only pass their cost on to the consumers.”

“That’s why this is a policy decision,” said Cipriani.

“Having the schools pay opens up a can of worms,” said Kehm.

“I don’t have a dog in this fight,” said Cipriani. “The committee needs to make (the policy) clear.”

After continued deliberations, the committee took no immediate action on the matter.

In another controversial move, the committee introduced Ordinance 2018-01, which abolishes the Economic Development Advisory Board in favor of a “Commercial Revitalization Advisory Board.” During discussion ,Mayor Ray Gormley said the idea is to open the board up to members of the community from all areas of the township who want to be on the board. Unlike the former EDC, the new board would not have a line item in the budget.

Anyone who desires to be on the board may contact the township clerk with a letter of intent. “We’re looking to do something similar to the Community Advisory Board … so everyone has an opportunity to serve on the board,” said Gormley.

Cipriani said the board could appoint a non-paid secretary from within its ranks.

A second reading of the ordinance and public hearing should be on a future agenda.

The committee passed a resolution for CFO Loesch, conferring with bond counsel, to sell and roll over $9,020,000 in township bonds or notes to get the best interest rates.

The committee approved upgrading the township police department dispatch by purchasing a $1.2 million radio system from Motorola Systems Inc.

Police Lt. Troy Bezak said the system upgrade was needed because the 500-megahertz frequency of the previous system was getting interference from Baltimore and Boston TV frequencies. “We’ve had some scary situations in the past where communications needed to be better,” he said. The new system will operate on a 700-megahertz frequency that is compatible with Stafford, Barnegat and Long Beach Township area police and fire systems, said Bezak. “Ocean County has a similar system,” he said. Little Egg also dispatches for Tuckerton under a shared-services agreement.

Under a separate shared-services agreement, the police department will assign certain officers to the Ocean County Fatal Accident Support Team. The township will be reimbursed $55 an hour from the county for the time officers devote to the FAST team.

During the township’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 1, Jim Oris of T&M was appointed township engineer, special projects engineer, municipal planner and grant writer. During the Jan. 11 meeting, due to Oris’ sudden departure from T& M this week, the township is requesting proposals from area firms for engineering services.

Engineer Jason Worth, also of T&M, said he was unable to comment on Oris’ departure. T&M can also submit an RFP along with any other firm interested in the township’s business.

In the interim, Worth gave his engineering report outlining the capital projects the firm is involved in: the pipe cleaning and drainage system for Pinehurst and Seminole streets have been completed and a new pipe is to be installed this week; K and G Marine Inc. won the bids to replace the street bulkheads in the original Holly Lake development; roof work is ongoing on the township storage building on Gifford Road but work is largely completed on the community center and the justice complex and town hall. Snowmelt was coming through the louvers of the justice complex and town hall, and Worth said he is investigating that; “The roof is not leaking,” he assured a resident.

Mayor Gormley said he and Tuckerton Mayor Sue Marshall had gone to Trenton again to meet with officials from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection about the joint National Fish and Wildlife Federation’s $2.1 million grant to restore the shorelines after Sandy. “It was a 2½ hour meeting with everyone except the US Fish and Wildlife (Service). The long and short of it is we kind of got an indication that the marsh restoration (with dredge material) could be cost-prohibitive.

“It’s clear that the Little Egg Harbor inlet is going to be dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers and the sand will be placed on Beach Haven beaches towards Holgate in front of residential buildings. They plan to start as soon as the weather breaks and hope to have it done by the summer.

“And then we learned that the Army Corps is studying the two bays from the Manahawkin Bridge north and south and how bad the channel is (the inland waterway). Approximately one million cubic yards of material has to be moved (dredged), so now they are in the same boat as we are, and that means they are going to have to create CDFs (confined disposal facilities), and that’s positive because they need the same thing we need, so it could get done.”

Gormley said officials from Stafford were not at the meeting. “It was just for the NFWF for Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor.”

During public comment, Art Mooney of Sunrise Bay thanked the township for the new website. “It appears to me to be a state-of-the-art website, is user friendly and a definite asset to all the taxpayers; it’s a valuable tool for transparency. There’s only one thing missing: the webmaster,” said Mooney. “Who do residents contact if they have a problem with the website?”

Loesch said to thank his administrative assistant, Robin Schilling (extension 221), for the content of the website and that she would be the one to contact with any website issues.

Both the mayor and committee members thanked the department of public works for its work during the Jan. 4 winter storm, which dumped 17½ inches of snow on the area.

Gormley said the only problems were people leaving their cars on the streets, especially in the senior communities. “But overall, the PW did an outstanding job.”

— Pat Johnson

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