New police director and COVID spike discussed at Hopewell Township Committee meeting

Hopewell Township Committee November 9 2020

Hopewell Township approved the hire of a new police director, discussed increased COVID rates, and passed several resolutions including a two-year lease with PSE&G to use Pennytown as a “material staging area” at the Committee’s regular meeting on Monday, November 9, 2020.

Statewide and locally, COVID numbers are rapidly increasing, and the Township Committee urges residents to abide by social distancing precautions. Since this meeting, Hopewell Township saw a record 24 new cases in a single week. (For more COVID info, see https://mercerme.com/covid-19/.)

“There is an increase in COVID infections and it is important to reduce as many exposures as possible,” cautioned Julie Blake, Committee member and chair of the Township’s Board of Health. “Two Mercer County hospitals are in ‘diverge’ status and need to send patients to other facilities. Protocols are helping, so that’s the good news, but the bad news is that the rates are increasing.”

Mayor Kristin McLaughlin pleaded with residents to “continue to do the great job of wearing masks and attempting to social distance.” 

“We are entering a difficult time for all of us and the virus,” McLaughlin said, “There is a lot of work we can all do to keep each other safe. Please don’t let down your guard.”

The Township Committee unanimously approved the hiring of police director, Robert Karmazin, a retired United States general, who started at the position on November 12, 2020. The position of police director is a new one created after the retirement of former chief Lance Maloney on August 1. (For more on retirement, see Police chief to retire in Hopewell Township.) A police director is a civilian position to oversee the operations of the police department, but who is legally prohibited from acting as a police officer from wearing a uniform to arresting people, according to New Jersey law.

“We decided we would like to hire a police director to involve the public in what our goals would be for our community,” said Blake, Committee person and liaison to the Police Department.  “This process was incredibly enlightening and informative and we had incredible candidates. Bob Karmazin really stood out. He just retired as a general. He will be reaching out to multiple communities and will help us ascertain what is important in the community both inside and outside of the police department.”

“My heartfelt thanks and I’m humbled to take on the responsibility to work with a great department and to work with the community to build trusted relationships,” said Karmazin.

“We’re pleased the stars aligned to allow you to come. I look forward to a productive partnership among yourself, the Committee, the community, and the police department,” said McLaughlin. “I see you as someone who can engage with and bring those voices together.”

During public comment, one member of the community, Sheila Fields, inquired about Karmazin’s qualifications and whether Karmazin’s resume would be available for public review. The Committee responded that a public press release would be issued that would outline Karmazin’s qualifications. (For the Township’s hiring announcement, see Hopewell appoints new Police Director.)

The Township introduced an ordinance establishing standard design specifications and construction details for public sanctuary sewer collection facilities, considering the repairs made to sanitary pumps in Princeton Farms and Brandon Farms and, in recognition that the Township’s affordable housing projects will be advancing. Mark Katarnyak, the Township community development director and Township engineer, explained that the Township is working toward establishing a set of standards to create a minimum set of requirements. The guidelines are based on New Jersey residential site improvement standards for collection systems as well as developed from other utility authorities throughout the state and general industry standards. The public hearing will be held on November 23, 2020.

Moores Mill Mount Rose Road will be undergoing a width expansion as part of the transfer of ownership of the golf course from private ownership to the County. The width of the road does not meet the County requirements, so the Committee passed a strip dedication along the road to give the half-width of desired right of way, explained Katarnyak. The second hearing will be on November 23, 2020.

In support of local businesses, the Committee passed a resolution recognizing Small Business Saturday on November 28, 2020. 

“This year — more than ever — is important to support our local businesses and Small Business Saturday is one opportunity to focus that” said Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger. “We should be doing it all year round but let’s make a special effort.”

“This is something that makes Hopewell Township stronger,” echoed Kuchinski. “Local businesses are those who support our local causes and sports teams; this is focused time to support the businesses that support us.”

By resolution, the Township’s personnel policies and procedure manual was amended to reflect recent changes in CDC recommendations for COVID-19 social distancing including requiring that employees do not share a vehicle. 

The Committee passed a resolution accepting a short-term lease with PSE&G for a construction material staging area on a portion of a Township property, commonly known as Pennytown, located at 145 Route 31N. According to the resolution, PSE&G has requested the use of a portion of the property as a “staging/storage area for utility poles and bagged backfill stone to support utility reliability upgrades within the Township” specifically a “utility pole and distribution system upgrades between the Mount Rose and Hopewell substations.” PSE&G would use the centrally located paved portion of the property consisting of approximately 40,000 square feet for the lease period of two years between December 1, 2020 and terminating on November 31, 2022.

The next Township Committee meeting will be on Monday, November 23, 2020. To read any items from the agenda, https://www.hopewelltwp.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11092020-1467

1 COMMENT

  1. Do we know how much PSEG is going to pay to lease the Pennytown lot? I didn’t see a lease agreement in the Twp docs, or a dollar amount in the resolution. Thanks! Kim

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