Home » Pennington Council meeting focuses on the environment

Pennington Council meeting focuses on the environment

by Lynn S. Robbins

Water quality and environmental resources were high on the agenda at the September 5 Borough Council meeting.

Water quality study approved 

Mayor Jim Davy and the Council discussed upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations on PFC (perfluorinated chemicals) on drinking water systems serving the public. Council President Kit Chandler said adoption by the federal government is expected in December. Van Note Harvey Associates (VNHA) has proposed a study exploring treatment options and sources of financial funding when it becomes available.

Council member Nadine Stern and Borough Administrator Donato Nieman recommended approval of the study so the Borough will be prepared when the funding becomes available.

After additional discussion, Council approved the study, although members John Valenza and Charles Marciante abstained because of the study cost, estimated by VNHA at $64,500.

Future water quality considered in Debt Services analysis  

Sherry Tracey from Phoenix Advisors presented a report on the Borough’s debt services analysis which shows the Borough’s cash flow is sufficient for paying its debts. Council members discussed future projects that will affect the budget including lead pipe replacements and treatment for the presence of PFAS ( Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals”) in New Jersey’s municipal water systems. They discussed sources for funding these projects including grant opportunities and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank.

During a public session of the meeting, resident Meredith Moore thanked the Council for addressing drinking water issues saying it is an important topic.

Stormwater ordinance introduced

Davy introduced an ordinance prohibiting certain stormwater discharges from roof leaders, downspouts, yard drains and other pipes and drains into the storm sewer system and public right-of-way. Prohibited discharges include domestic sewage, non-contact cooling water, process wastewater or other industrial waste (other than stormwater). Details of the ordinance are posted on the Borough website.

Stern announced that the Borough has received a $25,000 grant from the State of New Jersey that can be used to map the Borough’s storm sewer system.

Environmental Commission contributes to the 2025 Master Plan

The Commission’s acting chair Joann Held discussed the group’s current projects and goals. Currently, members are putting finishing touches on the Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) which covers 12 elements including, land use, open space, water resources, wastewater and solid waste management, climate and air quality, light and noise pollution, vegetation and wildlife, and more.

The ERI can be useful for residents who wish to identify resources and issues on their property and neighborhood, and for officials when reviewing applications submitted for approval.

Held said the ERI will be incorporated into the Conservation Plan element of the Borough’s 2025 master plan. Because the plan is a living document, it can be updated periodically to reflect regulatory changes at the state level.

The Commission’s September report to Council includes a primer on how to compost your food waste rather than throw it into the trash which ends up in landfills producing methane, a greenhouse gas.

Held said the Commission is coordinating its efforts and projects with the Hopewell Valley Green Team. To learn more about these projects and learn how to compost your food waste, see the September Pennington Environmental Commission Report.

Economic Development 

Storefront and home-based businesses 

Chair of the Economic Development Commission Jason Meyer reported that the group has been creating an inventory of businesses in Pennington and working with the Planning Board to contribute to the 2025 Master Plan. One of the commission’s future projects will be an inventory of home-based businesses. Meyer is looking to publish results of their projects on the Borough website.

Development potential of the closed landfill property

Council approved a bond ordinance for $403,000 related to development planning for the old landfill site and other related properties.

Another source of funding for the project could come from a grant of up to $50,000 offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Council approved a resolution to apply for the grant for a fee of $1,000.

Pedestrian and driver safety 

Safe Routes Grant

Chandler and Stern led a discussion on potential projects to be included in the Safe Routes Grant administered by NJ Department of Transportation.

The projects include:

* A pedestrian school crossing with flashing lights at Abey Drive and West Delaware Avenue.

* A speed table at Burd Street and Welling Avenue.

* A crosswalk at the point of the speed table at Curlis Avenue and Abey Drive.

Related to safe routes, Police Chief Douglas Pinelli said he is putting a crossing guard at Burd Street and West Welling Avenue.

A plan for residents’ safety concerns 

Davy led a discussion and introduced a design plan to improve safety in the area of Rockwell Green Drive, Scudder Court, and Chadwell Court. He said residents have complained that drivers are turning into this area from King George Road at unsafe speeds. Suggestions from council members and Brandon Fetzer of Van Note-Harvey include increased lighting, installation of a sidewalk, and a speed bump.

Roads rated for repair needs

Stern provided a list of roads (adjacent to County roads) ranking their conditions from poor to good. Stern said she believed that if Pennington pays for asphalt and disposal, the county would pay for the work

Summary of other topics  

Inspection fees: Council adopted an ordinance for mechanical subcode fees which allows the Borough to charge for the inspection of fuel oil and gas connections and other services related to energy usage.

BeiGene transports: Chief Pinelli reported that the transport of building materials to the BeiGene campus has been completed with some inconveniences to residents but no major incidents.

An additional proposal to transport more materials through town via dump trucks did not materialize. At the Borough’s request, the hauler used an alternate route.

Library happenings: Council member Katrina Angarone encouraged all to attend several library events including “Art Talk featuring Edvard Munch,” September 29; “Fall Greeting Card Making,” October 8; and “Organize Like an Archivist” (genealogy records and research), October 11. See the library website calendar for details and more events.

In the Council meeting’s last session open to the public, resident Meredith Moore thanked the Council and Mayor for their transparency in covering issues affecting Pennington.

The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for October 2.

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