Little Egg Harbor Introduces Feral Cat Colony Ordinance

Little Egg Harbor News Notes
Mar 02, 2018

The Little Egg Harbor Township Committee introduced a feral cat colony “trap, neuter and release” ordinance that Committeewoman Lisa Stevens has been working on with Friends of the Southern Ocean Animal Shelter. The ordinance would allow those who care for feral cat colonies to register with the township, and then the Friends would humanely trap, neuter and release the cats to the areas that have been designated by the ordinance.

“The idea is to reduce the number of feral cats and assign responsibility for colony care-givers,” said Township Attorney Jean Cipriani during the Feb. 22 township committee meeting. The ordinance requires the caregivers and the Friends to give reports twice a year on the approximate number of cats in the colony and how many have been neutered. The caregivers must also sign a waiver of liability and have the written consent of the property owners.

“This does not mean the township has given up the right to remove animals if the colonies are a health risk or a nuisance,” said Cipriani.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the next meeting, on March 8 at 7 p.m.

Deputy Mayor Barbara Jo Crea presided over the meeting as Mayor Ray Gormley was absent.

The committee adopted two resolutions for two new police officers who will replace retiring officers. One appointed Michael LaMontagne as a police officer while he is “pre-academy” and compensated according to this ranking. The second officer is not yet appointed, but the resolution allows Police Chief Richard Buzby to hire a prospective officer when an opening exists.

Jason Worth of T&M Associates was appointed the township engineer. Worth has been serving as township engineer since the abrupt departure of Jim Oris from T&M in January.

A change order of an additional $17,464 was awarded to the contractor for improvements to Seminole and Pinehurst drives off Atlantis Boulevard. The project is funded through the N.J. Department of Transportation Municipal Aid Road Program.

Worth also said the survey for the reconfiguration of the intersection of Wisteria Lane and Leitz Boulevard has been completed.

Bids to make the township’s improvements to drainage and paving on Twin Lakes Boulevard will be advertised on March 12 and should be awarded by April 12 so the township can move forward with its portion of reconstruction of that important thoroughfare. The road has been under construction for water and sewer replacement by the Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utility Authority for over a year. “The folks on Twin Lakes will appreciate that,” said Crea. “We’ve been hearing from them.”

Committeeman John Kehm asked if the MUA’s construction equipment could be moved from the grounds of the Edward Thorton Community Center, but Worth said the MUA still has about three months of work. Kehm said the heavy equipment has been dragging sand and gravel onto West Calabreeze Way; Worth said he would see about sweeping the street.

The township engineer will be meeting with the Ocean County Engineering Department the first week in March and should have an update on the Park and Ride commuter lot planned for the intersection of Route 539 and Poor Man’s Parkway.

The committee authorized Worth to prepare plans and specifications for bids for the Living Shoreline project on Iowa Court being paid for by a $400,000 Water Quality Restoration grant received from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection last September.

The committee also authorized Worth to prepare bids and specifications for the Osborn Island dredging project. In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Feb. 27, Mayor Gormley said the resolution allows Worth to prepare plans and specifications for the dredging of all the Osborn Island lagoons. The township will pay the engineering costs through its long-term capital projects plan in the 2018 budget. Once the engineer has a cost estimate, the township will hold a public hearing with residents to explain the scope of the project and the estimated costs. If waterfront residents on Osborn Island decide to go ahead, they would assume the costs of engineering and construction by a special assessment tax levy over 10 years.

“This is important,” said Gormley. “The township will pay the cost upfront through the capital projects and then assess the Osborn Island property owners. If you are not on the waterfront on the island, then you won’t pay the assessment.”

Gormley also said the township does not have a site for the dredge spoils but would let the contractors who bid on the project find a site. A plan to acquire a possible de-watering site – 6.7 acres on Osborn Island through the Ocean County and township’s Natural Lands Trusts from owner Susan Yansey Disbrow – was thwarted when it was found that New Jersey had already purchased the site for open space preservation. And because there is a heron rookery on the property, it could not have been used anyway, said Gormley.

The Osborn Island Residents Association has already obtained the permits for dredging, using $100,000 of its own money, the mayor noted. Gormley was cautiously optimistic that the public presentation of the project could be held this spring and the lagoon dredging project be ready for this year’s allowable dredge season, which starts in September and lasts only through December.

During the public portion of the Feb. 22 meeting, Art Mooney from Sunrise Bay asked if the township had made any progress on a new garbage ordinance that would clarify if businesses and nonprofits that were and are getting garbage pickup by the township would continue to get that service. A 2015 update to the garbage ordinance states only residential buildings get township garbage pickup.

Cipriani said the public works department still must submit a report of what the financial burden is to the township for those commercial businesses and nonprofits receiving garbage pickup.

Committeewoman Stevens said she is still working with veterans groups on Veterans Park and would like to set up an ad hoc committee to help her. She asked Mooney if he would like to join, but he declined.

Mooney also asked about the no-knock ordinance and how it was being administered. Township Clerk Diana McCracken said she maintains a list in her office of about 30 residents who have registered, and she sends this to all the registered vendors in the township. Anyone who would like their name added to the list must go to the clerk’s office and fill out a short form. The resident gets a sticker to put on their home’s window or door, alerting salespeople not to knock. If they do, they face a fine.

Dave Fuller from Osborn Island asked if the weeklyfree advertiser Mailbag, delivered by van to every home, could be stopped this way. Cipriani said no. “The no-knock ordinance does not prevent distribution of (news) papers.”

Fuller said the papers in plastic bags are nuisances and create litter. McCracken said she also maintains a list of addresses where the drivers, employed by Gannett Publishing, are instructed not to throw a Mailbag, but  sometimes there is a problem when a new driver doesn’t follow the rules. Anyone who wants to be added to that list must come to the township clerk’s office.

— Pat Johnson

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