During tonight's lengthy 7pm work session and 8pm public meeting, the River Edge Mayor and Council will tackle some of the borough's most recent controversial topics from sidewalk replacements and a shade tree ordinance to the Cherry Blossom Park and 2013 Open Space Trust Fund allocations.
River Edge and New Milford have previously been in talks on exploring a shared service agreement to cover sidewalk replacements costs for slabs that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Each borough has an ordinance in place stipulating that homeowners are responsible for covering the costs to replace sidewalk slabs. But officials were unsure of passing the cost onto homeowners as borough shade trees had caused the destruction.
According to DPW Superintendent John Lynch, there are approximately 38 slabs that need to be reset and an additional 40 for reconstruction. New Milford has an estimated 66 slabs that need to be replaced with the potential cost of $150 per 4-by-5 slab.
Shade Tree Ordinance
River Edge spent five years drafting a Shade Tree Ordinance that ties the removal of a tree with that of acquiring a building permit. The council's Tuesday night agenda now calls for discussion of amending the ordinance.
The ordinance was initially introduced in May after five years of rewrites and delays but then defeated in early June over concerns of property rights infringement. The previously proposed legislation would have given the Shade Tree Commission jurisidiction over the removal and protection of any trees located on both private and public property except for when a homeowner removes a tree on their property for maintenance or in case of an emergency.
Later that month, the council began discussing the ordinance again but with the goal of removing any oversight of trees on private property while retaining the requirement that any tree removal be tied with a building permit application. It would then place a greater emphasis on larger home construction and that of redevelopment projects over smaller construction projects by homeowners.
Open Space Trust Fund
After defeating the Open Space Trust Fund ballot question in 2011, residents had a change of heart and restored the funding. This year, the fund was passed with 1,503 votes with 1,434 in opposition.
The Trust Fund allows for one cent per each $100 of a homeowners taxbill to be set aside for the preserveration of open space in the borough.
In prior years the majority of the trust fund's allocations have been used to cover with additional funding being set aside for the Recreation Commission, Beautification Committee, Shade Tree Commission, 9/11 Memorial and Environmental Committee.
Cherry Blossom Park
The borough purchased less than an acre of land between Cherry Hill Elementary and the Christian Community Church in 2008 with the goal of creating a pocket park in the southern part of town.
The park area, was purchased with a Bergen County Open Space grant and additional funding is expected from the DEP-based Green Acres. Tonight the governing body will finally determine where they stand with receiving any Green Acres grant funds.
In in its report that an underground storage tank had not leaked following its removal; that soil samples revealed the existence of chlordane, an insecticide that was used prior to 1983 for crops, lawns and gardens; and that a building on site would require asbestos remediation prior to its removal.