Emerson Council Greenlights Late-Night Filming, Eyes License Plate Readers

In a regularly scheduled meeting on September 5th, the Emerson Borough Council, led by Mayor Danielle DiPaola, tackled an array of issues ranging from local proclamations to advanced technology for law enforcement. The council notably approved late-night filming permissions in the borough and discussed the potential implementation of Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) as a crime-fighting tool.

One of the most attention-grabbing decisions was the council’s move to allow filmmakers to shoot past the existing 9 p.m. curfew, extending the permissible time up to midnight. The approval came with the caveat that residents within a 200-foot radius of the filming location must be notified in advance. While no change was made to the current ordinance, the council clarified that such permissions could be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Acting Chief Captain Mark explained that ALPRs capture every vehicle’s license plate that passes by and it has been a significant crime-fighting tool in urban areas, especially with the rise in car thefts. He mentioned that Mahwah has ALPRs on every major road in their town. He proposed the potential acquisition of two ALPRs, one downtown and one near Haworth, and noted that they have applied for grants to fund them. If the grants fall through, the council would need to consider budgeting for them. The cost was broken down as $5,000 per year for five years. When questioned about its functionalities, he clarified that it could detect unregistered, suspended, stolen vehicles, and more in real-time. The council discussed surrounding towns’ use of ALPRs and its potential benefits. Overall, there seemed to be no opposition to the idea, with multiple council members expressing support.

In addition to these developments, the council also discussed a forthcoming lease expiration for a cell tower with Crown Castle, set to end in 2024. A full bid process is expected to take 30 to 60 days and was recommended to begin as soon as possible, with an additional suggestion to consult with technology liaisons before proceeding further.

Among other items, Mayor DiPaola announced the acceptance of dry and canned goods as part of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, aimed to benefit Pastor Arturo of the adjacent Bible Church. Various public proclamations were also acknowledged, such as National Assisted Living Week 2023, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and a 9/11 proclamation.

Mayor DiPaola thanked bands and sponsors for the Mayor and Council Presents Concert Series, with the next event featuring Alisa Brown of Emerson set for October 11th. Plans were discussed for a future performance at the Senior Center by resident composer Chris Opperman, who recently performed in Los Angeles.

Other community updates included announcements for the annual 9/11 ceremony by the Emerson Volunteer Fire Department, Bergen County’s annual senior festival, and the Emerson Upcycle garage sale scheduled for October 14th. There was also news of a recently concluded meeting aimed at fostering collaboration between the local school and the council, led by new business administrator Mr. Harmison.

In personnel matters, the council unanimously approved the promotion of Lieutenant Rocco Eduardo to Captain of the Emerson Police Department, effective October 1st. Community Grants Planning and Housing was also unanimously appointed as the affordable housing agent for the borough.

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