Municipal Matters: July 2024

June 25, 2024

Hello!  

There has been a lot of activity the past month across our community.  I was one of two Township Committee members who attended the program for the Bernards Township Seniors (60+) Program at the County Mt. Airy Senior Center on June 1. The program included presentations from various partners from the Township and was coordinated with the Somerset County department on Aging and Disability Services.  

Related, I represented Bernards Township at the County’s department on Aging and Disability Services Public Forum on June 5at the Bridgewater Senior center. The session was held to understand barriers facing our community of older adults (60+) and people with disabilities (18 years plus). One statistic shared was that of the 344,978 people in our county, 23% are 60+, with a median age of 69, which implies our senior population is going to be around for a while, making age-related issues quite salient.

The 34th Twilight Challenge fundraiser supporting the Municipal Alliance was held Sunday June 2. Nearly 200 participants joined the 5k run, one mile health and children’s walk. Among the volunteers were Municipal Alliance and BTDC members Cat Santaiti, Lily Wong, and me.

Among our upcoming priorities, we will be planning for the fourth round of Affordable Housing (AH) obligations.  To that end, the Township offered a program on June 9 where Kendra Lelie, Principal Planner, Kyle and McManus Associates, who has been contracted to assist with our fourth round Affordable Housing requirements, provided a review of definitions, the legal history of Affordable Housing, and Bernards’ past and anticipated approach. Kendra also shared that currently there is a need for 200,000 affordable housing units in NJ.  The presentation can be viewed here.

At our Tuesday, June 11 meeting, among the ordinances passed were ORDINANCE #2552, An Ordinance to Amend the Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Bernards Chapter 16 “Shade Tree Protection”.  Notable,adoption of this ordinance is required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  The Shade Tree Commission, on which I serve as liaison, worked with the town engineer Tom Timko to review the proposed ordinance changes including providing the updated tree list. The exception of trees located on a tract of land having a total area of less than three acres with a building thereon has been removed. Thus, the ordinance now encompasses a much larger component, about 5,000 residences, of our community. To that end, the Shade Tree Commission will be working on educating on the ordinance. The ordinance is now effective and published.    

In addition, Ordinance #2560 was passed to establish regulations and permit requirement for Filming Throughout Bernards Township.   As background, The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners initiated the process for creating the Somerset County Film Commission at their May 25, 2021 meeting to assist in post-COVID economic recovery for the hard-hit hospitality industry and create new employment and business opportunities for the future. The Film Commission’s objective is to market the county’s robust natural landscapes and diverse communities to film, television, and digital productions while encouraging them to take advantage of New Jersey’s significant tax incentives for film. Passing the resolution will enable Bernards Township to be considered as a filming location, and hopefully provide new revenue opportunities for our local businesses.  

Hopefully you’ve seen the Rainbow PRIDE flags on display at Town Hall.  The flags, first put up under the leadership of Committeewoman Joan Bannan, communicate the township’s recognition of the unique attributes and contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT+) residents in our community, and foster respect and inclusion.  There was a resolution recognizing Pride month at the June 25 Township Committee meeting. 

For the first time, the resolution was a separate presentation to a community organization, the Somerset Hills YMCA, that provides education and programming to foster inclusion for the community. To that end, there was a PRIDE picnic on June 26th that the Somerset Hills YMCA, 6-7:30pm., that all were invited to attend. 

Thank you again to all who have been attending the Township Committee Meetings. Your presence is greatly appreciated!

You can contact me on Township matters at (201) 306-0178, or via email at amccarthy@bernards.org. Please note that any correspondence sent to me will be visible to the full township committee and county clerk. 

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