PLUMSTED – An ordinance that would codify commercial property in town failed to pass during last month’s Township Committee meeting and was revisited during this month’s session.
Ordinance 23-06 concerned Commercial Buildings. It was previously changed from a second reading to another introduction based on revisions proposed by Committeeman Leonard Grilletto.
The revisions he recommended were too extensive to allow the ordinance to be amended and for a vote to adopt it. When the ordinance was voted on in July, Committeemen Dominick Cuozzo, Michael Hammerstone and Grilletto voted yes on the introduction with Grilletto’s changes and Mayor Robert Bowen and Deputy Mayor Herb Marinari voted no.
During this month’s meeting, the ordinance that would establish building standards in a commercial zone drew some comments from Mayor Bowen who said, “I’ve been working on this and talking with some property owners and one of them was kind enough to track down for me a version of this from Mount Laurel and the first thing I noticed what we did in six and half pages they did in a page and a half.”
“Another thing which I talked about at our last meeting was, I am hesitant when the Committee is creating standards and what I liked about the Mount Laurel ordinance was that they simply adopted existing standards and, in their case, it was the 2018 international property maintenance code,” the mayor added.
Mayor Bowen said in contrast to what the township’s ordinance stated the Mount Laurel ordinance “simply said why don’t we just use an existing standard that we can all agree on? And a third thing I noticed and Committeeman Grilletto mentioned it that their inspections authorized their construction official or designee and officials from the county board of health so I think there might be a better way to do this.”
“I think we might be able to get to where we want to go in a more manageable way. Both versions of the ordinance we looked at – the one we had started with and the one we voted to approve for second reading – doesn’t include a mechanism for a certificate of continued occupancy,” the mayor added.
He noted the Mount Laurel ordinance did include such a mechanism to activate this. “Ours says you should get one but it doesn’t really say how or when.”
Deputy Mayor Marinari said he had also spoken to some property owners as well. “There are a lot of questions out there as to what we are doing and trying to do and my response is that we are trying to improve the overall operation of all businesses but at this point I would like to table this and look at it with more depth.”
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said that were the ordinance tabled without a new date it would die. “It certainly seems like we could put together something more workable as it doesn’t seem that the Committee is ready to go forward with this ordinance in this form. We can look another look at it in a more simplified version.”
Grilletto wanted to put a date on it. “We can table it for a month or two months but make a decision on it. I would have to look into it. This came up from the Construction Department and I also have a problem with the application where they go to construction status, mercantile application, I think it is a misnomer.”
“It is a coding and compliance form (not a mercantile application) and that is what it should be called. To me it is a misnomer and I am always leery of too much government.”
Marinari suggested that it be revisited during the Committee’s November meeting. “We would be able to move it then.”
“If we table it until the November meeting it would die at that meeting and a revised version would be introduced,” Cipriani said.
“I am all for simplicity. I am all for the Mount Laurel one,” Committeeman Hammerstone said. “We’ll have to change it a little bit.”
Cipriani pointed out that the 2018 international property maintenance code “was an extremely detailed document, so once you review it you can say ‘not this section’.”
“So customize it,” the mayor interjected.
“Exactly,” the attorney responded. “It needs to be customized. If you adopt it wholesale, you’ll adopt a bunch of things that don’t apply and some you don’t want.”
The Committee voted in favor of tabling the ordinance until their November 2 meeting. Committeeman Cuozzo had left the meeting prior to the ordinance vote.