Edgewater Council Advances $4.75M Development; Opposes Telecom Bill

In a significant gathering at the Nancy Merse Council Chambers on June 19, the Edgewater Borough Council pushed forward substantial development plans, greenlighting funding of $4,753,047 for a plethora of borough improvements, and, in a surprising pivot, voiced strong opposition to New Jersey General Assembly bill A-4376 over concerns about the regulation of local telecommunications facilities.

Councilman Rinaldy Gutierrez presided over the meeting, which saw an engaging mix of routine administrative decisions and key policy discussions. Among the most notable actions, a series of bond ordinances, aiming to support various acquisitions and improvements in the borough, were introduced and adopted. Memorial Park, the interconnection of municipal buildings through a fiber optic project, and properties on River Road are all set to benefit from these financial allocations.

Yet, it wasn’t just the approval of funds that drew attention. The council is contemplating issuing bonds or notes, amounting to $4,515,394, as a financing mechanism for these initiatives. The borough’s Chief Financial Officer is set to have significant authority in this endeavor, with any decisions made by this official concerning the notes being deemed conclusive.

A decision to authorize direct negotiations with contractors for the “Historic Borough Hall and Memorial Park Improvement Project” was also discussed. The project has faced its fair share of complications, failing to attract any bids despite multiple solicitations. The move underlines the complexities inherent in managing public infrastructure projects and showcases the Council’s adaptability in the face of such challenges.

However, the unanimous approval of funding and development projects was somewhat overshadowed by the fervent opposition voiced by the Council to New Jersey General Assembly bill A-4376. This bill, which pertains to local authority over telecommunications facilities, was criticized for its potential to sideline discretionary land use reviews for new antenna installations.

The council claims that the passage of A-4376 could greatly restrict the municipality’s discretion, as discretionary land use approvals would only come into play under highly specific circumstances. Such a situation would be a severe blow to the municipality’s self-determination concerning telecommunications facilities deployments.

In a firm response, the Council passed a resolution opposing the bill and urging the Assembly to reconsider its stance. The resolution is set to be distributed to both the New Jersey Legislature’s chambers, highlighting the broader debate between local vs. state and federal authority.

Finally, throughout the session, the public engagement was palpable, with individuals congratulating new Police Officer Roy Danis and expressing concerns about local amenities and licenses.

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