Long Hill Council Debates Security at Public Meetings

The Long Hill Town Council recently convened to discuss various topics, with the most contentious being the proposed ordinance 533-24, which addresses security measures at public meetings. This ordinance, recommended by the County prosecutor’s office, sparked debate among council members and the public regarding the necessity and extent of such measures, including the use of metal detectors and police protection.

The discussion on security was prompted by public comments questioning why only certain boards and the Town Council itself were entitled to police protection at meetings. The ordinance would allow the Township Committee, Planning Board, and Board of Adjustment to request police security for their public meetings and make the deployment of magnetometers and bag searches a permissive choice. A member of the public highlighted the absence of known security threats in the past, challenging the justification for the ordinance. Another public speaker proposed that the ordinance should notify the County prosecutor and sheriff about security threats and allow individuals to participate in meetings from home via Zoom if they feel unsafe.

Another topic that garnered attention was the potential rezoning of a property on Union Street for light commercial use. Concerns were voiced over the environmental impact on wetlands and potential health risks from fumes that could affect nearby residents, including one with a sick husband. The council acknowledged the need for further investigation into the property’s zoning status and its implications.

The council also tackled the issue of noise from NJ Transit trains and the feasibility of establishing quiet zones. The complexity and cost involved were discussed, with a note on the challenges another town faced with a similar initiative. While some members recognized the safety reasons for train whistles, the discussion revealed varying opinions on the noise issue, which affects residents living near train tracks.

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Matters of community interest and engagement included updates from the Recreation Department, which announced events such as the dog days of summer concert series, National Night Out, and a spring egg hunt. The Fire Department reported on its response to 53 calls and the upcoming arrival of two new trucks. The First Aid Squad, too, had been active with approximately 170 calls. A proposal was mentioned to improve communication between volunteer groups within the town.

The meeting also touched on administrative affairs, such as upcoming letters to private stormwater fixture owners about maintenance requirements and lead abatement regulations for rental units built before 1978. The need for dog registration was announced, along with grants for turnout gear awarded to the Sterling and Millington Volunteer Fire Companies. The mayor thanked residents for the town’s financial position, buoyed by the sale of the Wastewater system.

Further discussions encompassed the introduction of the food truck ordinance, detailing regulations like operating hours, distance from existing restaurants and residential zones, and permit requirements. The council debated the enforcement of special event permits and attendee limits, as well as policy changes in Parks and Recreation, including the addition of pickleball courts.

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The role of the Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was debated, particularly concerning emergency purchasing and mitigation responsibilities. The council agreed to appoint the CFO to the QPA position after a discussion on qualifications and roles.

During the public comment period, issues of transparency and accountability were raised. A resident inquired about the resignation of the previous QPA and the handling of a contract to repair the police station following a flood. The council provided some clarification on the legal steps taken for emergency purchasing, addressing the concerns raised.

Finally, the meeting covered general announcements and encouraged public involvement, with a retirement party for a health officer, a high school production, a rummage sale, an Easter egg hunt, and services offered by the police department for house checks during residents’ absence.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Guy Piserchia
City Council Officials:
Scott Lavender, Brendan Rae, Victor Verlezza, Matthew Dorsi

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