The Rochelle Park Town Council resolved to pause any further approvals of new flag raisings in the township during its recent meeting. The determination comes after months of council debates surrounding the LGBTQ pride flag.
The resolution dictates that beginning September 16, no new flag raisings would be permitted barring those previously sanctioned by the committee and those scheduled for imminent dates. While it was underlined that existing approvals would continue to hold ground, the directive aimed at instituting a period for analysis of a draft ordinance governing flag displays.
In a previous month’s meeting, a debate erupted over a proposed ordinance to limit the flags that could fly on township property. Committeeman Perrin Mosca was notably embroiled in the controversy, having been accused of instigating disturbances and making derogatory comments about the LGBTQ community – allegations he refuted.
During public comments, residents brought forward the need for a regulatory framework that prevents the rejection of flag requests. One resident, Mr. Warren, referenced a letter he received from the ACLU, dated February 6th, 2023, which discussed the trend of towns banning flags, especially the rainbow flag. He cited a precedent from Boston in 2022, which emphasized the importance of having clear guidelines and policies in place. “A city choosing to fly a rainbow flag does not mean that the city must then fly any and all flags requested,” he quoted from the document. Warren urged the council to consult with their attorney and consider other municipalities’ stances on this issue.
Meanwhile, George Martinez, a community member, critiqued the committee’s indecision during prior meetings and urged officials to take clear stances on contentious issues, such as the flag ordinance. Diverse perspectives emerged with some individuals urging the council to step away from a position of political expedience to one of representation and democratic action.
Despite the inherent complexities and divergent opinions, the council agreed to the pause, emphasizing that the hiatus in approving new flags would prevail only until a more extensive review of the existing ordinance was carried out.
In other developments, the council announced a collaborative endeavor with a cannabis council and business focusing on community outreach and educational ventures. This engagement promises a substantial revenue influx to the township starting with a $30,000 initial fee followed by annual payments of $70,000 for three years commencing January 15, 2024.
Urgent deliberations regarding the Howard Avenue project also surfaced with an announcement of a request for an additional $600,000 fund allocation to meet expanded work scope as per grant prerequisites.