Home » Township Planning and Zoning Boards should meet in person

Township Planning and Zoning Boards should meet in person

by Community Contributor

Despite virtually every other public body returning to in-person meetings following the Covid pandemic, the Hopewell Township Planning Board and the Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Adjustment have yet to hold an in-person meeting this year. Instead, they have ZOOM meetings online because they can.  

If you do not have a computer, are computer-challenged, or lose power, you are precluded from attending these public meetings. Regardless, failure to interact with the public in person undermines public confidence in government. The reason for their refusal to hold in-person meetings is unclear. Anti-democratic?  Arrogance?  Lazy?  Germophobic?

What is crystal clear is that the U.S. Congress and the New Jersey Legislature meet in person.  Well over a year ago, since June 13, 2022, the Hopewell Township Committee has been meeting uneventfully in person and simultaneously via Zoom in a hybrid meeting format.  

On March 7, 2022, Governor Murphy ended the Public Health Emergency, and noted: “With Covid-19 moving into an endemic, the time has come to move forward to normalcy.”  While the Governor kept the State of Emergency in effect, his reason had nothing to do with health or safety, but to counter federal red tape. In fact, the Superstorm Sandy State of Emergency is in effect to this day, 10 years later, for the same reason. 

Ironically, before Covid, both Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings were conducted in the same municipal auditorium that Township Committee meetingsare conducted.  In other words, the infrastructure for in-person hybrid meetings is already in place and has been working just fine for almost a year and one-half.  All that is needed are democracy-loving, modest, energetic, non-germophobicPlanning and Zoning Boards.

Harvey Lester,
Titusville, NJ

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