Council Establishes New Tree Ordinance
Resolution passed to enter animal control shared-service agreement with Chatham, Millburn.
The council voted unanimously Monday night to pass an updated tree ordinance, which has been in the works for the past couple of years.
The ordinance will officially go into effect 20 days after the council's approval.
Initially, the council planned to hold a final hearing on the ordinance at the Nov. 7 regular meeting, at which time the ordinance was expected to pass. However, the council members opted to keep the hearing open and give residents additional time to deal with the extensive tree damage that was left from October's snow storm.
During the meeting, resident Mark Fusari expressed his concern about the newly implemented rules during public comment and asked that the council not take away freedom from the property owners. "The proposed ordinance is very lengthy for trees in general," he said.
"Your ordinance is going to create a process in order to remove a tree in Livingston; we've never had a process," he said with regards to properties under an acre in size.
Mayor Rudy Fernandez pointed out that the tree ordinance did not require residents to go to the township for permission to remove every tree, as they are allowed to remove three per year without a permit.
Fernandez also noted that both the Livingston Environmental Commission and the town council took the burden on the township's residents into account while drafting the updated ordinance.
"It was about trying to set a balance between protecting the canopies that we have now, not creating a burden for the home owner; but at the same time stopping the clear-cutting that is going on at many properties," Fernandez said.
Also on Monday night, the council also passed a resolution to enter into a shared services agreement with both Millburn and Chatham for Animal Control services. Livingston will also upgrade its animal facility, which is used to house the animals after they are caught and will share costs with the other townships to handle the wild animals. The move to shared services drew praise in particular from Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro and Deputy Mayor Steve Santola.
"I have to commend Michele [Meade] because she has been working like crazy with every municipality she can find," said Santola, who added that the long-term goal for the township is to seek out even more shared-servicing opportunities.
In other news:
- Resident Walter LeVine questioned the council on the change orders associated with the firms of Hedinger & Lawless and McCarter & English, who are representing the township respectively in legal matters regarding the Livingston Public Library project and affordable housing (COAH). Fernandez explained that the costs associated with the COAH suit will soon diminish, as much of the case is already over.
"Those numbers should be lower going forward," he said.
With regards to the library litigation, the mayor acknowledged that it was difficult to estimate how much the suit, which was brought against the township will ultimately cost.
"You get involved in litigation and you can never tell a client how much it's going to cost at the end of the day," Fernandez said. "All we can do is monitor the situation closely as the case progresses and see where we're going."
- The Council voted to authorize a 24-month contract with Professional Climate Control, Inc., to service the heating and cooling systems in Group A buildings (Senior/Community Center, Town Hall and the Public Library), which cannot be performed by the township's regular employees.
- The council also authorized the cancellation of the remaining balance of $125,000 in their contract with Nature's Choice Corporation, with whom they authorized a contract for the removal and disposal of tree debris following October's snow storm at the Nov. 7 regular meeting.
Instead, the township voted to authorize a new contract with JH Reid, who has agreed to grind the debris and haul it away at a rate of $2 per cubic yard plus an additional daily equipment rental fee of $4,800. The total amount of the new contract is not to exceed $80,000.
- Monday's meeting also featured two presentations. The first was to acknowledge the work of the 25 residents, who came together to create the Livingston Fall Foot Festival, which partnered up with the Soles4Souls charity organization. Over the past year, the group has collected 13,000 pairs of shoes to donate to homeless shelters and orphanages.
Members from various township service organizations, including the Lions Club, Sunrise Rotary, Lunch Rotary and Kiwanis Club were also honored by the council.
The town council meets again next Monday, Nov. 28, for a conference-only meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m.