The Hopewell Borough Council discussed the redevelopment project on Model Avenue, a plastic bag ban and new expenses in their meeting Thursday night.
The redevelopment discussion regarding Model Avenue continued from Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting with Mayor Paul Anzano expressing concern for the lack of community involvement.
“We kept waiting for people to show up to meetings, we kept waiting for public comment, and no one showed up,” Anzano said. “If we don’t get proper response from the public, I don’t want to vote.”
Council Member David Mackie continued his determination from the Planning Board to spread awareness of the project, feeling that proper input should be had before a major step in zoning is made.
“This represents a major change in land use, the rest is minutia,” Mackie said. “It’s too late to say anything after this stage.”
Mackie pledged to inform the residents of Model Avenue beyond the legal requirements, whether it be going door-to-door or, as Council President Sky Morehouse joked, “walking down the street wearing a sandwich board.”
The Council tabled the ordinance until the next meeting in September, with Anzano intending to table the issue into October after Borough residents return from their vacations.
The Council additionally introduced an ordinance to ban plastic bags in the Borough, forcing shops to either provide a paper bag or offer the purchase of a reusable bag instead.
The ordinance drew particular criticism from Morehouse, who found the ban, which has no enforcement, to be “useless” and suggested that stores be required to display a placard urging customers to rethink their bag usage.
“I don’t see any education component in this and I don’t see any problem solved,” Morehouse said. “I see a problem created.”
On the other hand, the ordinance was commended by Lisa Wolff, executive director of the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, who argued that simply having the ban would be informative.
“I completely agree that there should be an educational component,” Wolff said. “Just having this already creates an educational component.”
The ban was not voted on for its first reading but will continue to be part of the Council’s agenda moving forward.
The Council furthermore reviewed recent local spending, including a new dump truck, which totaled $105,000, and upgrades to the traffic lights at North Greenwood Avenue and lighting at the Hopewell Train Station, which totaled $20,000.
Finally, a number of events in town were highlighted, including an appearance by Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson at the Hopewell Valley Senior Center in Pennington between August 8th and 10th, the “wet down” christening of a new rescue vehicle on August 18th, and praise to emergency services for the handling of a house fire last month.
“The response from everyone was amazing,” said Council Member Chris Fossel, who observed the fire firsthand. “It made me feel very comfortable knowing that we had the best of the best.”