Home » Pennington Borough Council notes Local Government Week, Arbor Day, Jersey Meds opening

Pennington Borough Council notes Local Government Week, Arbor Day, Jersey Meds opening

by Lynn S. Robbins

Pennington Borough Council met April 8 to conduct regular business, including:

Happening now: Local Government Week celebrates civic education and community collaboration

Council Member Nadine Stern announced Local Government Week: April 8-12. Earlier this week, Borough residents had the opportunity to have “coffee with a cop” (Monday), visit the Pennington Fire Company (Tuesday) and meet Borough elected officials and staff (Wednesday). All week residents can visit Pennington Library and take part in a scavenger hunt with a chance to win prizes and on Friday, 4-5:30 pm, join friends at the Kunkel Park Spring Opening. Enjoy music and meet the committee. More information can be found at the Borough website.

Championing Trees from Nebraska to Pennington

Honoring Arbor Day, which was first celebrated in Nebraska, 1872, Mayor James Davy read a proclamation announcing April 26 as Arbor Day in Pennington.

While the Borough celebrates the planting of trees, it could regulate the removal of trees on private property based on an ordinance passed at the April meeting. Council member Charles Marciante voiced the one “no” vote, objecting that it is not right for the Borough to tell residents that they “have to cut down trees on their own property.”

Davy said that municipalities are required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to create tree ordinances. As described by NJDEP, the purpose of the regulation is to protect other trees from infectious disease and to protect community members from trees the obstruct the safe flow of traffic or cause damage to buildings or sidewalks.

The ordinance must also encourage and protect the presence of healthy trees by requiring a property owner to obtain a permit to remove a tree and to replace it in kind.

Stern pointed out that the ordinance would not give the municipality a “blanket ability” to remove trees from properties.

Shade Tree Committee member Meredith Moore said the ordinance can be customized, and volunteered to work with Council to modify it.

Shade Tree Committee chair Kate Fullerton encouraged residents to visit the committee’s website where one can access and download a tree owner’s manual and find several other educational materials. Fullerton expects that videos will be included in the near future.

In honor of Arbor Day, the committee and Toll Gate school students will plant a tree by the Tollgate playground, April 26, 10am. Fullerton said the event is educational for students and residents and is part of the community forestry management plan.

Jersey Meds celebrates its grand opening

Council passed a resolution allowing cannabis retail store Jersey Meds to mark its grand opening using outdoor space at its location at 7 Highway 31 North. The event will take place Saturday, April 13, noon to 4pm, and will feature a glass blowing demonstration and music provided by a disc jockey. Two food trucks will provide refreshments (cannabis gummies notwithstanding).

Council votes “no” to mobile message-board fee

A resolution that would require non-governmental bodies to pay a fee of $100 to use Pennington’s mobile electronic message board did not pass. Marciante objected to the resolution because it would require the Pennington Fire company to pay for its messages to the community. He and other Council members argued that an exception could be made for the fire company because of the vital function it serves. After the resolution failed to pass, Council member John Valenza suggested that the topic be revisited at another meeting.

Kudos for Donato Nieman

Davy read a proclamation of appreciation for Donato Nieman, who served New Jersey municipalities for more than 35 years, and served Pennington Borough as interim administrator for the past year. Davy acknowledged Nieman’s extensive knowledge and leadership and expressed appreciation to him for assisting the Borough Council in selecting GP Caminiti as the new full-time administrator.

Property Taxes

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Webb said the local tax rate for 2024 will be increased by one cent. For a property assessed at $488,000, there would be a $49 increase in the local tax, and a $15 increase in the library tax.

Police Department and safety announcements

Chief Douglas Pinelli was appointed as Pennington’s Emergency Management Coordinator. Also appointed: deputy Eugene Schooley, Jr., Richard Smith from Public Works and Water, and Robert D. Ingram from the Fire Company.

Officer Gerard Sinnott, Jr., who recently joined the police department, repeated his oath of office read by Borough attorney Walter Bliss.

A new gazebo for Pennington

Representing the Pennington First Aid Squad (PFAS), Neal Blackwell announced the squad’s unanimous decision to construct and donate a memorial gazebo at the corner of Broemel Place. Council passed an ordinance accepting the gazebo and recognizing PFAS which “provided emergency medical services to the Pennington community for many years until they were forced to discontinue operations in 2023.”

Social Media

Caminiti commented on the use of social media saying it is a good platform for general announcements and ideas, but not for municipal policies. Those looking for Borough policy information should visit the Borough website at https://www.penningtonboro.org.

Who’s present?

During a public session, resident Dan Pace said he would like to see the names of other community members attending the meeting. Currently, attendees’ names are not displayed at Zoom meetings unless they are speaking. Caminiti said he would follow up with Pace on his request.

The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 6, 7pm.

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