LACEY – Township officials remembered a town leader during a recent meeting of the governing body.
Deputy Mayor Nicholas Juliano noted the loss of a long-time township resident and community leader “Dick Ritchie who I’m sure a lot of people know in this town. Definitely a very iconic man. He has done so many things.”
“He was chairman of the planning board for a number of years,” Township Clerk/Business Administrator Veronica Laureigh said.
Juliano added, “I had the honor of doing business with him for 20 years. When I first came to this town I rented the building next to his shop and I got to know him over those 20 years. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. He was definitely a great man. He gave back to the community in so many different ways.”
Committeeman Mark Dykoff said of Ritchie, “I remember knowing Dick Ritchie 25 years ago when I first came down here. He was one of the fathers of Lacey Township with John Parker of course and the list goes on. I remember sitting on the Planning Board with Dick being the chairman and being part of the Kiwanis.”
“What a gentleman, as Nick said. What a good man. Excellent business man. You just felt good when you dealt with Dick Ritchie. He will be sorely missed and my condolences goes out to his family,” Dykoff added.
Committeeman Tim McDonald also spoke about Ritchie adding, “when I found out about it, a mutual friend of ours and I talked about Dick until 2 in the morning. The one thing I remember about Dick Ritchie besides being a great gentleman was that his gas station here was immaculate. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He will be sorely, sorely missed.”
“I also wish to mention the passing of Dick Ritchie who has been an active community member for many years. He was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club and also served on the planning board for many years. He will be missed by us all,” Committeeman Steven Kennis said.
Mayor Peter Curatolo gave his condolences to the Ritchie family. “He was absolutely one of the fathers of our town, like Mr. Parker and so many others. Although I did not know Mr. Ritchie, I have certainly heard the name many times and am very sorry for his family.”
The governing body also recently approved a donation of property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Laureigh described the land being donated as “a valueless piece of property that will probably only be seen on low tide days. Fish and Wildlife had reached out to us to acquire it. It is back behind Bayberry Village at Murray Grove and we are donating it to them.”
Committee members also voted to amend township code regarding stormwater regulations through an ordinance on second reading. “The entire chapter has been amended in accordance to the new guidelines issued by the State Department of Environmental Protection,” Laureigh said noting the 31 pages covering those regulations.
Grants and Refunds
A shared service arrangement with Ocean County was also passed for the Move Over grant program.
A resolution concerning the refund of a building permit fee for a solar project from the Lacey Township Building Department was approved. Laureigh said this was for a resident who had canceled the project and therefore sought a refund of their $341 permit fee.
Committeeman Mark Dykoff spoke about the refund saying “what will happen is that people will – as in this case – pay for a building permit and they change their mind and they want a refund. Well, it’s not that easy. We are the stewards of your money and obviously what that means what we have to do is that it has to go before the committee.”
“We have to determine whether the refund of that money is warranted,” Dykoff added. He also gave another example of “what we do up here. The second reading of an ordinance is basically a law. So, what we do is we have a first reading and we vote on that and it doesn’t mean we are approving it, it means we are approving it to hear.”
“You’ll notice during the second reading we open it up to public comment. That is the time for the public to come up and voice any concerns or add any ideas they may have,” Dykoff added.
Also on the agenda was the payment of township bills in the amount of $653,778.71 and the reduction of two performance bonds for the second phase of Seabreeze at Lacey that were also resolutions approved.
Seabreeze at Lacey Community Association President Joe Branciforte and association member Bob Lesniak thanked the Committee in regards to the two performance bond measures.
Branciforte provided an update on the community’s transition process from Toll Brothers ownership. “We are one step away from full independence. We hired two people – a transition attorney and a transition engineering firm.” The senior community has 528 residents.
The Township Committee also approved the funding for new radio communications equipment. The upgrades in radio equipment will cost Lacey $1,290,000 that will be utilized by police, first aid and fire companies in the township.
Kudos To The DPW
Juliano noted that with spring weather starting to emerge he thanked the staff of the “Department of Public Works and the work of all volunteer organizations in the township and the police department for all they do.”
Dykoff also gave thanks to the DPW for their work during the winter regarding “the snow storms where there was no rhyme or reason whether it was sleet, slush or snow, freezing. It was rough and our town and our county did a great job clearing the roads.”
State Budget Decisions and Marijuana Regulations
Regarding some state news, McDonald said, “we have our great governor saying no new taxes but he’s increasing everything. Government doesn’t work that way. All he’s doing is kicking it down the road. We are going to get stung very, very badly in the near future.” It is implied that McDonald referred to the governor as being “great” in a sarcastic way.
McDonald also noted during the meeting about marijuana. “Last I read you could smoke it here but you just can’t buy it here so I think they will have to change that.”
Kennis also addressed marijuana legislation by the state calling it “an absolute travesty. It specifically says the odor of marijuana doesn’t warrant an investigation. In addition, the bill includes penalties for (police) officers who wrongly exert their authority when it comes to marijuana investigations.”
“So, if you are police you are not even going to try to investigate anyone for marijuana. It is essentially a free for all. If it is one thing New Jersey does well is getting its priorities wrong,” Kennis added.