PLUMSTED – The question of who can present an invocation at a Township Committee meeting and the process involved is still unclear after months of review.
The township has numerous houses of worship within the community and representatives have taken turns presenting invocations at committee sessions.
Michael Silvestro of Monroe Township heads the Satanic Temple of New Jersey which holds services in Plumsted and has members from the township, as well as nearby towns like Jackson.
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said there has been a tremendous amount of delay and said a review of the policy had been completed and a resolution had been adopted but “we were told that there was going to be a defense of that resolution and we are looking into confirming that and we have not been able to get that confirmation yet. We are still pursuing it.”
Counsel has been reaching out to the Alliance Defending Freedom (a conservative Christian legal advocacy group that has been criticized for its anti-homosexual stance) as they were a resource for some committeemen regarding invocation procedures. One member of the Committee said that ADF would defend the resolution that was passed in January of 2022, should the need arise. Cipriani is attempting to clarify that.
A policy concerning invocations has not been solidified yet. Currently, only religious organizations within Plumsted are invited to participate. The mayor has been rotating those on the list to do the invocation at township meetings.
Related to this is a township chaplain program which is something that continues to be discussed among the governing body. At this time, there is no chaplain. Silvestro has applied to do both – perform an invocation and serve as a chaplain in the township.
It may be a little less noisy around town following the passage of a revised ordinance. A resident noted a neighbor who played loud music in his neighborhood at various times.
“The sound is going overboard and it happens at all hours and it has been happening since March. I’ve worked with the police and their hands were tied until this new ordinance,” resident Richard Sech said.
He added, “it is 24/7 there is no time constraints on the quality of life. This will bring some quality of life to our neighborhood.”
The noise ordinance passed on July 6 is now in effect. Committeemen Dominick Cuozzo and Michael Hammerstone voted against it while Committeeman Leonard Grilletto, Deputy Mayor Herb Marinari and Mayor Robert Bowen voted for it.
Recent resolutions that were approved concerned the awarding of a contract to Earle Asphalt Company for an inlet reconstruction project and appropriation of a $25,000 stormwater assistance grant.
Also approved was the insertion of a special item of revenue and appropriation of the municipal court alcohol education, rehabilitation and enforcement fund grant in the amount of $1,297.95.
Matthew Rack was appointed as alternate construction official in the absence of Kevin Schmalz. The township already has one backup for the construction official, and this is a second backup, in case neither are available.
The governing body voted to hire a part-time finance clerk, Michael Kemp.
Officials also approved a request to the office of the Ocean County Engineer to apply to the Department of Transportation to obtain necessary approvals for 4-ton limit signs on Hornerstown Road.
Also authorized by officials was the repair of a school flashing light on North Main Street by Ocean County Engineering and a temporary increase in hours for Anthony Creen as general maintenance laborer.
Tom Potter of Sanders Lane said he didn’t want to put ‘no trespassing’ signs up in reference to a pending revision of the township’s no-knock ordinance slated for reintroduction at a future committee meeting this fall.
“I don’t want to put stickers (saying no-knock) on the door. If someone comes up to my property, how do I ask them politely to leave and do they have to leave?” Potter asked.
Cipriani responded, “You could simply say ‘Please leave. I don’t want to speak with you. I don’t want you to be on my property’ and then yes, they do have to leave.”
“What is my recourse?” Potter asked.
“If you tell someone that you don’t want them on your property and that they are trespassing. You can say ‘I want you to leave.’ That is how you would enforce it,” the attorney responded.